After surfacing we had to swim the circumference of the pool. When we returned to the deep end we had to tread water for ten to twenty minutes, depending where in the line you were. Those who went in first had to tread water longer than those who jumped in last. Next test was to swim under water from one side of the pool to the other and back. Another test was to make a floatation device with you trousers. While treading water you had to remove your pants, tie the open ends of the legs into a knot near to the end as possible. Then you positioned the pants behind you, holding the waist up with the legs hang in the water. You then quickly pulled the pants up and over your head and pulling the waist down to the surface of the water in front of you, there by filling the legs with air. As long as you kept the legs wet they would hold the trapped air and be buoyant. We were required to float on this device for 5 minutes. Lastly we did a similar air trapping trick with our white sailor hat and made a smaller floatation device. If a person failed to pass these swim tests they would come to the pool every night, after chow, for swim lessons until they could pass the test. I passed first time. Treading water for 15 minutes after my perimeter swim was my punishment for thinking that if I went first off the tower I’d get it done and over with early.
You would probably think it odd for someone who is afraid of the water to join the U.S. Navy. It’s equally likely that you’d find it odd that someone, who grew up on the shores of a major river, would be afraid of the water. I’ve been thought odd more than once in my life. Yes it’s true; I grew up afraid of the water. I was OK with water that wasn’t over my head and the current was relatively mild. And, I joined the Navy; twice in fact.
When I was a young lad, or even younger than that I think, my dad took a Red Cross life saving course in swimming. His purpose, since he was already an accomplished recreational swimmer, was to teach me, his pride and joy and, at the time, only son, how to swim. He failed to teach me to swim but did teach me a terrible fear of the water.
My parents took me to Mr. Simpson’s camp to learn how to swim. Mr. Simpson was a local pharmacist and fuel oil customer of my dads, who ran a swimming lesson program during the summers at his camp along the
When I started working on the farm with my friend Donny, I was around fourteen or so, and I decided that I was missing out on too much teen socialization. Growing up in a river community, much recreational activity centered on and around the river. Everyday after haying Donny and I would go down to Pythian beach, the public beach at that time. It is directly across from where the United Helpers Home is currently located on the route #68 extension where it meets Rt. #37. To help me gain confidence, I’d wear those flippers that scuba divers wear. With the added propulsion they provided I could swim quite well, and fast too I might add. Anyway, with that I conquered my fear somewhat, not entirely but some what. By the time I reached the summer after high school graduation I would go swimming off the oil docks, right at the city limits, without the aid of the fins and the water was in the 50 to 60 foot deep range to accommodate the oil tankers that would dock there to unload their cargo.
Remnants of my emotional fear of deep water are still present to this day. Through sheer will, I overcame my reluctance to shy away from deep water. I decided to join the Navy just to prove I could overcome and conquer my fears and not let them prevent me from wearing the Navy uniform.
My computer is acting in a very unprofessional way and so the part two of this post will be delayed.