Last weekend Tom and I went camping at Lake Crescent. We swam in the lake all three days. I wore shoes because of the painful gravel, and had no goggles, so wore my glasses and left them on the beach in order to be able to open my eyes in the water. Being in a beautiful, clear lake, just with Tom, with nobody else in our space, helped me get a lot more comfortable and swim maybe 10 strokes without getting panicky. It also helped that I was able to play as much as I wanted, in other words dive under, pop up, duck under, swim under water, etc. in order to get comfortable being under and managing my breath for very short periods of time before even trying to swim the crawl. It was really great! The lake was such a beautiful experience, and also my swimming did make a little progress.
Yesterday here in Seattle I went to Seward Park beach with our friend George, a triathlete, for an informal swim lesson. After treading water for a while with him, I was able to swim farther than I expected without getting anxious. I did that a few times and did eventually have some anxiety where I felt I wasn’t getting enough air and had to put my feet down. But I did better than I had been doing in the pool before the lake experiences. I’m optimistic I can break through the panic sometime.