Do we consider swimming like a plunge into danger?
Are we confident to plunge into something new?
How do we take a plunge with a prudent spirit and a joyful abandon?
How do we bridge the gap between care and dare?
I found honest answers on these introspections while taking the final plunge caused by from a mishap at Marathonissi island.
Marathonissi island is one of the small uninhabited islands in Zakynthos, Greece. Marathonissi hosts the turtle “Caretta caretta” as they leave their eggs on the very fine, powder-like white sand beach reminding me of Aguirangan island in the Philippines.
Marathonissi has no shop and as we docked on the shores, there is a small speed boat vendor, selling snacks, drinks, fruits, sandwiches and ice-cream. We hired a sea glass bottom boat from Agios Sostis and sailed near Laganas passing through Cameo Island which is most popular in Greece for its Zante wedding venues, the hanging white muslin curtains and where everyone wears white in its daily evening White Party.
Waiting to see for the little head of Caretta caretta turtle to pop out from the turquoise seas can make you tear-eyed and be amazed by nature’s wonder. After the turtle spotting, we headed to Marathonissi island for an hour of swimming.
My husband was looking after my four year old daughter while I practiced my swimming skills only in the depth that reaches my five feet height. I was relaxed swimming back and forth, measuring from two speed boats docked spaciously. I am confident to swim if my feet can still touch the sea bottom when I stand for a pause. I am so grateful for the patient years that my older two daughters taught me to swim in some swimming pools in Switzerland when they were just six and seven years old. In 18 years, they haven’t seen me yet swim deeper than my height however, swimming in Marathonissi island changed that fact.
As I swam towards a boat which was nowhere to be seen, I panicked because when I looked towards the shore, I was more or less 800 meters (0.80 km or 0.50 miles) away from the shoreline so I screamed, “Help! Help! I can’t….”
An old lady who was also in our boat immediately swam towards me. She drew closer, I smiled and said, “No! Thank you. I’m okay now. I can touch the sea bottom!”
“You’re swimming quite well towards the deeper part. What scared you?” she asked sympathetically.
Her old husband who was may be nearly 70 years old said, “Ah, I swim like you. Only on my preferred depth, for as long as where I am confident that I’d be safe but you’re not doing that bad, you swam to the blue depths of the sea!”
I smiled and thanked them. While sailing on our way to Keri arch and caves, the tourist guide and boatman stopped the engine of the boat and said, “The depth is more or less 5 meters, you can dive here and swim to the caves.”
My husband shook his head at me, a clear “No, no!” sign while all other 4 couples in the boat laughed out loud when I said, “Ah, here it’s my height. I can swim it!”
My husband thoughtfully explained, “It’s 5 meters not 5 feet. Are you sure you can take that plunge?” He murmured to me softly that 5 meters deep is equals to around 16 feet deep.
The other tourists laughed because for sure they realized that my uncertainty on swimming muddled up with my metric and English system calculation of meters and feet! Well, in Italian they would say, “sei una fifona,” meaning you’re a sissy.
I thought in silence, 5 meters which is equivalent to 16 feet is like a final test on my amateur swimming skills but then a marathon of what if’s clouded my mind and paralyzed my daring spirit to test myself on such depth. What if I get cramps? What if I can’t make it? What if I drown? What if I die? Am I ready to die? What if…
That same evening, my four year old daughter learned to float and swim dog-style with arm bands from the shallow part to the deepest end of the swimming pool in Tsilivi. I sent sms to my older daughters that Elisa can swim.
My eldest daughter texted back: “Mommy, she will swim better than you if you don’t take the plunge on deeper water!”
My second daughter texted back, “Aw mommy! She’s braver! So, when will you properly swim?” What they both meant was swim without fear. The next morning I swam side by side with my youngest daughter until the deepest part of the pool, where my feet do not touch the bottom. I took the plunge!
Ever since that day after my successful mishap in Marathonissi island, I swam confidently in any depth.
How to take a plunge?
Whether that is in swimming or in any endeavor, this is how I took a plunge:
1. know yourself well: your potentials, talent, limitations, strength and weaknesses
2. train yourself, hone your talent and craft, never be scared to try
3. mistakes and failures are part of success, it is where you bounce back better knowing the areas where to improve yourself
4. don’t let fear, insecurities and uncertainties paralyze your actions
5. use all your forceful P’s: preparation, planning, precision, practice, process, perseverance
6. don’t forget values of E’s: enthusiasm, evaluation, endurance
7. be grateful of what you can do
Take a plunge with your lift of confidence, pushed by your leap of faith matching your actions toward positive outcome, directly or indirectly contributing to growth, development and fulfillment towards the path of success you are heading for.
Photographs by Camiel van Doorn, summer 2013, Zakynthos, Greece