Will It Go ‘Round In Circles? by
(133 Stories)

Prompted By Swimming

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I was never a great swimmer, but I had the rudiments. Enough to get by if I fell off a dock or something. Until one day…

I was never a great swimmer, but I had the rudiments.

In the summer of 1975 I suffered two fractures to my lower right arm in a high speed bicycle crash. I was in a cast for eight weeks. Any limb immobilized for a long time suffers muscle atrophy. It takes time and exercise to get your strength back. The problem was, the evening of the day that I got the cast off, I had to take a swimming test for my basic SCUBA certification course. We were expected to be able to swim for a quarter of a mile.

We began standing in the shallow end. When the instructor blew his whistle, I started off. In tight clockwise circles. My right arm was bringing very little to the party, so circling was all I could manage. I explained this to the instructor, but he was adamant that I had to swim a quarter mile before continuing the course; agency standards. I tried again, but I just kept circling. Then I had an idea….

I asked it there was a time limit on the swim test, and it turned out, there was not. It was considered a survival swim; no one cared if you were fast or slow. So I flipped over and started backstroking down the pool. On my back, I could see the ceiling and know if I was drifting over. This allowed me to correct my course.

I was basically propelling myself with one arm, so it took a long time. Everyone else finished and went home. But the instructor waited patiently as, lap after lazy lap, I made my stately quarter mile swim towards my certification card. After that, the rest of the course was easy.

Except getting out of the pool. Even by the last session, I didn’t have enough strength in my right arm to just scissor kick and boost myself over the edge; I had to shuffle over to the shallow end and go up the stairs.


Profile photo of Dave Ventre Dave Ventre
A hyper-annuated wannabee scientist with a lovely wife and a mountain biking problem.

Tags: pool, swimming, cast, fracture
Characterizations: moving


  1. Khati Hendry says:

    Ingenuity wins again. And doggedness. Good on you! I know that scuba has been an important part of your life, and you didn’t let a little thing like a swim test under adverse circumstances get in the way. Your tale of going around in circles sounds a bit like my attempts to use a kickboard–not because I had a cast on, but because my flutter kick seemed to propel me backwards no matter what I tried. The scissor kick came to my rescue.

  2. OOOH! I could feel the pain. And the challenge of extricating myself from the pool. Well done. And well written.

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