I managed to swim thirty lengths yesterday – the most I’ve ever swum in my life.
It made me remember the school swimming gala I took part in when I was approximately twelve years old. I was representing my class in the front crawl race. But before I continue – a little background information – I’ve always carried a little (and sometimes a lot) of extra weight compared to my peers. My brother, who was sat in the spectators’ area on the first floor, told me over dinner that evening about what had happened to him when I stepped forward to the edge of the pool.
“Oh my God Juned – is that your fat sister?!” His ‘friends’ pointed down and laughed. I imagine he shrivelled back in his seat and waited for me to come in last.
Thank God the laughter and cruel words didn’t reach me as I focused on my lane of water. The whistle blew, I swam with all my might and the race ended. I came in second place. The boys stopped laughing and my brother sat forward with surprise and pride (I imagine).
“I didn’t know you were a good swimmer Afa,” he beamed over dinner.
Like any school kid or person, I had my weaknesses of course – long distance running was (and still isn’t) my thing. I used to dread the yearly cross country runs (which only really involved running around the school grounds but it seemed an enormous task for an overweight teen like myself!). And don’t get me started on hurdles – the shame I felt at needing to be carried off by 2 students and a teacher after crashing into a hurdle still haunts me when I think about it!
But I did go on to come in second (or third – I can’t recall exactly) in a discus throwing competition during a Sports Day. Also, I was a Captain and led my netball team to victory in an intra-school tournament a few years later.
I still appear a little overweight than my peers but one thing never left my side – stamina. As an adult I can dance vigorously for hours as well as train in the gym with mighty force.
Moral of the story?
Do not assume that a person carrying extra flesh is lazy, unfit or unsupple. They may just be able to swim, walk, jog or run that extra mile more than you.
© Rabia Bashir 2013