When I knew I was meant for greatness

When I was about 6 years old, my immigrant mother, signed me up for swimming lessons at Centennial Recreation Center in Scarborough. The only problem was that she signed me up with the older kids. I was a 6 year old taking swimming lessons with a bunch of kids 10 years of age and older. I don’t know why no one ever checked to make sure that I was of age but we rolled with it. Just imagine lining up all these kids who are similar heights, then you see me, this pudgey shrimp, shaped like a gosh darn corgi. I was a pretty decent swimmer though. My mother would often hear the other parents in the stands talking about the little boy who is shaped like a chode swim across the pool with grace. I kept passing the swimming courses, so even though I was younger, they were OK with me continuing with that age grade. I don’t know why, but I never thought it was strange that I was the smallest one there. Proof being that my mother told me this a few years a go when I was in my 20s.

As I would continue to advance through the courses, eventually my mother decided to sign me up for diving lessons. I think this was another mistake that she made. Me, being nine years old, amongst some 12 years old, had no idea that these swim lessons were different than normal lessons. I just show up and follow instructions. Oh we’re diving off the side of the pool today, cool. Now we’re going off that little dinky diving board, fun. But it wasn’t until we dove off the actual diving board, you know the one that you pretend to be an expert on in the Olympics “oh little splash, that’s going to be a good score” that one.

I got up there and was petrified. I think that this was the first time in my life that I ever felt fear. I looked down at the pool and figuratively pooped my trunks. Oh my God, I’m so high right now and not in a good way (I don’t do drugs). My mother recounted the story and told me that as I was staring at the pool, the pool stared back. My mother explained that every student, swimming teacher, and parent was watching me up there. I guess I was there for awhile. My mother started hearing murmurs “he’s not going to do it, he’s scared.” I wouldn’t doubt it if my mother thought that herself.

But out of nowhere “DO IT BARON, JUMP” my diving teacher yells from the pool. I do it. I don’t dive, I jump. Full cannon ball too, what a rush. Closing my eyes, I hit the water. My goggles flip up and water runs up my nose. It was fun! What I didn’t know was that when I was in the water, apparently I got a standing ovation from everyone in the pool. When I heard this story from my mother, I was like – damn, I am cool. All of this happened because of a mistake. My mother made the mistake of signing me up for lessons that I shouldn’t have been in the first place. These are happy accidents, that make life interesting. Obviously very anecdotal but as I live, I’m going to take as many (calculated) risks and make the most of any mistake.

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