First things first: this post is about borders in swimming pools and not about ridiculous border walls elsewhere.
It asks us to question what kind of behavioral borders and boundaries we practice with ourselves and as a consequence, our own children or swimmers? Hopefully the answer is not border-line!
I find that this fundamental pillar of human behavioural psychology does not get spoken of often enough. Perhaps the subject of borders and boundaries has been so overshowed by traumatic educational and parental practices in the past, that we sort of tilted the boat entirely in the opposite direction or avoid the subject all together.
I find that a healthy and brave conversation about borders and boundaries particuallry in water is noticabley absent on social media and related blog posts. This in itself could be a reflection of how scary the topic of borders and boundaries gets.
The discussion about parenting styles can go on forever. Are you a relaxed boundary kind of parent or carer?
Perhaps you are a parent without borders or you might even be the tight border kind?
When in water, have you noticed what happens to your borders and boundaries?
Whatever kind of parental boundaries you enjoy or don’t enjoy practicing, one thing is for certain, thank goodness for swimming pool borders and boundaries.
But before we project the responsibility onto another, let’s question our own capactity to place crystal clear borders and boundaries as aquatic therapists and educators.
“There is no better place to reflect than in water!” #waterhappy
Swimming pool borders are a clearly defined perimeter within which a child is able to explore and discover themselves safely.
It is a very clear, physically tangible line, that allows for a feeling of safety when learning how to swim.
Clear boundaries help define where we are able to swim to and where we are not.
They are there to lean on when we get tired, to hold onto in the deep and to act as a reference point at every turn. Obviously, this works physically, emotionally as well as metaphorically.
Pool boundaries show us how to share space with others, where our limits lie and most importantly, how to listen and respect them.
Pool borders are not there to come in and out of at will and every pool is different.
They are not bendable, non negotiable and nor can they be emotionally manipulated.
They do not change depending on who’s in charge nor do they take things personally.
As a human being it took me a while to discover and define my personal borders and boundaries from the infinite sea of possibilities.
To overcome feelings of limitation, guilt and torment when doing so, has been a journey in itself.
The sea was the playground I grew up in. Its freedom infinite, liberating but also daunting, scary and confusing.
So too was the absence of my own upbringing’s clear borders and boundaries.
Good manners and polite converasation is not what I’m refering to here.
Rather I am questioning our ability to maintain clear borders and
boundaries with ourselves and with others while in water.
In water, which is an environemnt that naturally seeps into everyone and everything, borders and boundaries become paramount.
What I discovered when working professionally with water, is that it is essential that borders and boundaries are clearly defined within myself first and foremost.
In water everything is a continuation of myself, reflected and amplified.
The surface of the water itself is a crystal clear boundary that cannot be undermined.
Staying under the water’s surface a second longer could prove fatal.
Falling past a pools borders and into a pool can also put an end to a life.
It could not be more overstated that pool borders and boundaries need be clearly defined, understood and respected by both child and parent.
Clearly defined borders in the pool are a matter of life or death in fact.
As captain of the swimming pool ‘ship’ I have had to work hard at defining my personal and professional borders, as well as being able to stand my ground when necessary.
A crystal clear ‘mast’ leaves no room for doubt or misinterpretation. Safety comes first for all aboard and it is non-negotiable.
Knowing when to sit back and trust that the ‘ship’ itself will show up what needs to be seen, is also an acquired skill in itself while working in the sea is yet another universe.
How can we could use a pools physical borders to educate and speak for themselves, rather than be the border ourselves, is yet another watery reflection.
I will never forget the expression on an angry child’s face that hadn’t any clear parental borders at home. Being allowed to do whatever she wanted in the name of a gentle parenting approach, had created more anxiety and fear than pleasure in her.
A clear no and a firm handling of how her fear was expressing itself in the water actually allowed her to feel safe. After repeatedly testing me, she knew she could trust me. She knew that because of my steady borders and boundaries if she ‘drowned’ I would be there to catch her.
Unfortunately, due to the absence of healthy borders and boundaries at home, she did not share the same sense of security with her parents. The repercussions of borders and boundaries or the absence thereof, run deep.
Fortunately for her, fear turned into relief in an instant.
I am sure a few of you will disagree. This is where I am at. I am not prescribing a particular way rather I would like to bring more clarity and awareness to fundamental physical and emotional structures in water.
I would be happy to hear of your own reflections and practices in the water, please do drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org
THANK YOU WATER.