How Fear Stopped Me From Finishing Swim Lessons

They were bouncing. Again. Those boobs. They stared me in the face, bobbing, as if waving hi. Yes, the swim instructor was jumping up and down on the diving board, but that doesn’t give them permission to just flop around like that. I couldn’t stand them.

Shivering, I stood there, clutching the rail, wondering–the way little girls do whimsically when they don’t know how harsh a blow reality is capable of–what I would do if I was assigned that swim instructor.

I loved swimming and I did it well. I passed the levels faster than any girl my age ever did. I was the youngest person to finish 10 levels by the age of 9. There were only 2 more levels to go until I made it to the top; when I become top dog. Nothing was standing in my way. Not even my friend who secretly competes with me because she let our parental rivalry get to her.

The whistle blew. It was time.

I watched as each girl get paired up with someone other than that swim instructor. Even when there was only one other girl left–two girls for two different instructors–I still didn’t comprehend.

“And… Michelle, you have Jack!” 

I blinked.

No… it couldn’t be. I was paired up with that swim instructor. And the eyes on his chest were staring at me.

Do you understand now? I was afraid of MOOBS. 

Maybe I thought it strange because he wasn’t even fat. He just had a pair.

My prodigal-like swimmings skills now worked against me. I was a pioneer of the Porpoise Level. I went where nobody went before–and that lead me to one-on-one lessons with Manboob Jack.

I spent the next 3 weeks trying to blind myself. I kept my eyes in close range to the water, allowing quick escape down under. When he showed me how to perform a certain technique, water would always be in my eyes. While swimming laps, the further I’d get, the slower I would swim.

I say 3 weeks because on the 3rd week, I wouldn’t come out of the locker rooms. My mom found me in there crying because my mental health couldn’t tolerate any more of the moobs.

She took my misery seriously and braved the manager and somehow, I got assigned a petite woman. I went on to successfully complete all 12 swim lessons, which led me to… absolutely nothing in high school.

I was very lucky to have a mom that would defend her child when she had an illogical fear of moobs. Years later, when I asked her about it, she told me that her excuse was that I was uncomfortable around men–even though I’ve been successful in swim lessons taught by men before. She also said that she was lucky to have thought of the excuse because the boy was the manager’s son.

I’m still unsure why I was so scared of moobs. Some people are scared of spiders; others are scared of snakes. But me? I was (am?) scared of moobs.


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