It is a wonderful time of year for many of our youth who reside in the DMV area. The air is filled with jubilation because summer arrives and the swimming pools open and provide a learning opportunity that will last a life time. It is so important that our children learn how to swim at an early age. According to the National Safe Kids Campaign, drowning is the second leading cause of unintentional injury-related death in children ages one through 14. It has been stated that children can learn how to swim as early as they learn how to walk.
It has been said, “If the day ever comes when we experience a flood, many of us would reach our demise because we do not know how to swim.” I pray that day never comes. The point is that many of us would drown because we never learned the skill of swimming. Emphasis has been placed on children learning how to swim at an early age, but the question for today is, “Do you know how to swim?” Regardless of our age, it is never too late to start. Many of our swimming pools are open year-round, so there is no excuse for us not taking advantage of our public facilities that our tax dollars have paid for.
Many of us never learned how to swim at an early age because there were no swimming pools in the areas we resided. Even if there had been swimming pools, we would not have been permitted to visit or use them because of segregation. The closest thing to a swimming pool was going to the community beach during the summer or going down to the creek. The down side to going to the beach was that you only went maybe once or twice a year. The creek had more snakes than one wished to confront. Lifeguards on the beaches were used to save lives, not to teach us how to swim. Some of you have the luxury of having a pool in your backyard today, now look how far we have come. Give God thanks and praises! If you have a personal pool in your yard and you do not know how to swim, shame on you.
The first time I can remember putting my feet in a swimming pool was in 1970. It was the last semester at Elizabeth City State University and a newly built swimming pool opened for the first time. Because I needed one elective course during my senior year, I decided to take swimming. It is impossible to learn all the skills associated with swimming in such a short time span, but just the thought of learning the basics was so exciting and rewarding.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, swimming can help with chronic diseases and mental health. Water based exercising like swimming improves the use of joints affected by arthritis. Just using the word arthritis causes us to cringe, but swimming will help ease the pain, so I am told. Let’s carve out some time and get started with this new adventure.
One reason some adults will not pursue swimming is because of fear. As a word of encouragement, may we as believers embrace the words of 2 Timothy 1:7: “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” We miss out on opportunities when we give into fear and doubt.
We read in Matthew 14: 25 “that before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. It’s a ghost, they said, and cried out in fear.” But Jesus immediately said to them, “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”
I often wondered if Peter could swim, for it is said in scripture that he was able to walk on water for a while, but started to sink because he took his eyes off Jesus. As soon as Peter started to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!” And immediately Jesus stretched out his hand and saved him. It is implied that Peter could not swim, but there are other passages that suggest he could swim. What we know is that the other 11 disciples did not put forth a concerted effort to do so.
It is reported that there is a shortage of lifeguards. There are lots of young people who have mastered the skill and find themselves working during the summer months at community pools.
God has given man and woman the ability to do what fish can do. As some of you travel to the beaches on this Memorial Day, make up your mind and get started exercising those muscles.
Just my thoughts!
Robert Earl Slade, Pastor