daily californian logo


Apply to The Daily Californian by September 8th!

Learning how to swim

article image



We're an independent student-run newspaper, and need your support to maintain our coverage.

MAY 03, 2023

Can you swim? I couldn’t. I didn’t even know how to float on the water until I was 20. Well, it’s not that I didn’t go swimming. I like water, but I have a fear of water at the same time. How ironic. I love going to swimming pools and water parks, but I didn’t go there to actually “swim.” I just loved floating on the water under the sun with a swim ring. I couldn’t float or dive in the water, and I was scared when my feet stopped touching the ground. But, regardless of all these fears, when I turned 20 I decided that I was going to learn how to swim. 

Why? Because I didn’t want to drown! So it all began as survival swimming. I just wanted to eliminate drowning from the list of 100 ways to die. 

Where did I start? This is the funniest part of my swimming journey. I didn’t go to any swimming lessons in the community center but I instead learned swimming from one of my college classes. My home university had sports classes open for students who were not majoring in physical education. We had badminton, tennis, rock climbing, bowling, yoga, basketball and swimming. When I was searching for classes for my spring semester of 2022, coincidentally, the swimming class fit perfectly in my schedule. There was only one class per week and I earned one credit — either pass or fail. My friend and I eventually enrolled in the swimming class, which became my favorite class for that semester. 

Fortunately, this swimming class welcomed all levels of swimmers. Half of us learned how to swim at least once in their lifetime, and half of us never learned how to swim before, just like me. The professor divided the class into these two groups and taught us separately. So, I was able to start from the very beginning with how to float on the water. We spent two weeks learning paddling, diving and floating on water. I did excellent and thought, “Gosh, what if I am talented in swimming? Did I waste the past 20 years? I should’ve learned it earlier and became an athlete or something.” But, as soon as we moved on to freestyle swimming, I withdrew my words. 

Freestyle swimming is so difficult — at least for me. I needed to constantly paddle my feet, change my arms, dive and breathe, all at the same time. Whenever I tried to do freestyle swimming without a kickboard, I stopped after one round in which I dived, paddled my feet, moved my left arm, moved my right arm, and came out of the water to breathe. Maybe my lung capacity was not good enough. It was so frustrating to see other students who started from the same level do freestyle swimming without a kickboard. But I practiced over and over, and now I can do two to three rounds without stopping.

Then, we learned the backstroke. I loved the backstroke and I’m good at it. My teacher was shocked seeing me confidently doing the backstroke as soon as I learned it. 

By the end of the semester, I was able to do both the freestyle and backstroke. Considering I couldn’t even float on the water before taking the class, this is really a huge improvement. 

After the semester, I continued to swim. Even in Berkeley, I bought a new swimming suit and visited the Golden Bear Recreation Center. I love the refreshment after swimming. When I’m not in a rush, I slowly take a shower, change my clothes and go back home under the sunshine. I feel that my body is in good shape. Swimming really makes you healthy indeed. 

I love coming back from swimming pools with my younger sister, drinking chocolate milk and having a conversation. I’ll continue to practice swimming until I’m able to swim without touching the ground and do freestyle swimming along the full lane without stopping. 

If you don’t know how to swim, I highly recommend you start learning. It just adds to one of your lovely hobbies that makes you feel more happy and alive.

Contact Sojeong Mun at 


MAY 03, 2023