This blog post has been exclusively written for IndiBlogger's Rise above fear! contest in association with Mountain Dew.
In 1997, I joined Sainik School, Bijapur to continue my education. It was an all new life and I was slowly adapting to it. A lot of adventure awaited me and I was all excited. We had many of these athletic events, sports competitions, races, etc. When our house master came in to our barracks to select the team for the swimming competition, he said, "Whoever knows swimming, take your swimming trunks and come with me to swimming pool. And those of you who don't know, enroll your names for the classes."
Now, I was in a dilemma. Did I know swimming or did I not? I was a 10 year old kid then and had no idea about swimming. Those TV visuals of people beating their hand and legs in water appeared in my mind. I also remembered of those couple of occasions when I had been to a swimming pool, all to play in the baby pool. So, I decided to take my swimming trunk and follow the house master.
We were about 20 of us and there were 5 lanes. The first 5 took a jump into the pool, which was about 25 meters long. The depth of on one side was 12 feet and the other was 4 feet. The 5 reached the other side of the pool, and their timings were recorded. The next 5 were asked to get ready, and I was given the lane in the mid of the pool. I took my position, and soon, the whistle was blown. With a tiger's dare, I jumped into the pool. In seconds, I was gone, deep down in the pool, absolutely unaware of what was happening. A huge volume of water went in my stomach and I lost my breath. I struggled to beat my hands and legs to seek help. In moments, our PT (physical training) instructor Sanjeev sir dived to rescue me. He took me out, and in all terms, saved my life.
For the next 5 years, I did all that I could to escape swimming and stayed away from water. I would participate in all other activities that would exempt me from swimming, so that I am occupied in those time slots. I even skipped the mandatory swimming tests in some or the other way. However, in Class XII, there was no escape. The swimming test was a mandatory requirement before passing out from the school.
I was terrified. It was then that I thought what I holding me back. It was one unplanned wrong risk that I took long ago out of my thoughtlessness. It was a bit awkward for me to note that all my friends were able to swim now and I was afraid to even go near the pool. I decided, to dare. I challenged myself to learn swimming in the next 3 months and clear the test. It was, after all, a question of dignity, when I saw my juniors swimming through fluidly.
I went to the swimming pool and requested the instructor to train me. The training started. I still remember how afraid I was when I was entering the pool. It took a lot of guts to get in. After basic training, a rope was tied around me, and I was asked to jump in the pool. Despite those training sessions and gaining confidence by learning those basic moves by holding the edges, I trembled. I was practically pushed in to the pool and I just gave up. I was pulled towards the edge. It was easy due to the rope. I was asked to leave the pool, and take "fail" for an answer.
As I walked out, something in me kept telling me that I would regret this moment all my life. Fear is temporary. Regret is permanent. I went back and requested for one last chance. I closed my eyes, put all my trust in the God and the coach, and dived in the pool. It was horrible. The rope was a savior. My kept instructing me on how I should move my hands, legs and balance my body. I was able to manage myself for some time and reached the other side of the pool. I was covering the width of 10 meters in shallow water. This completion was a great confidence boost to me.
There is always victory after you have dared and given your best. That's perhaps why Mountain Dew's "Darr Ke Aage Jeet Hai" is such a catchy phrase. In a week, I was able to learn the basic free style swimming and was able to do that 10 meters without any support. In the coming days, I did the full 25 meters and I felt this was a real big accomplishment for me, as I had dodged this for year. In the end, it was not just swimming that I learnt, but also the fact that we ought to rise above our fears to make things happen. Its always better to try, than to think you can't.