Edited by Aruna Nidamarthy
When I was a kid, I used to go to this swimming class during summers. They had a huge pool. The pool had a deep end, a shallow end and a middle section which didn’t qualify to manage a name so it was just the center of the pool. The shallow end was the one where most of the crowd remained, loudly chatting, splashing each other, having all kinds of fun. Then there was the deep end where there were the real swimmers, They would have diving competitions among themselves, or they would check who could cover the length in the shortest period of time. They managed to have a little fun but mostly they would focus on how well they can swim. Then comes the middle section. This section consisted of the people who’d sometimes behave as the shallow end people and sometimes as the deep end people, usually they’d get away with the shallow end people because they were easy to mimic. The deep end people on the other hand were completely aware of the kind of tenacity that one must have to be on their side of the pool.
Since the majority was of the ones who were on the shallow and the middle side, the deep end people always felt left out. They used to wonder if they are the ones who are doing it wrong. Some of them thought that the whole learning proper swimming game is pointless because it’s not like they are likely to drown to death. So, most of them tried playing it the shallow end style for a while. When they entered the shallow zone, they realized that the competition in the shallow end lays a notch higher than the deep swimmers had anticipated, they had silly competitions like shark in the water, noodle jousting, whirpool etc, all fun competitions but competitions nonetheless.
Towards the middle of the summer and the swimming classes as well, something started to change. The deep end swimmers who had been playing it the shallow end style realized that they were losing at the silly games. They realized that the people who had already been in the shallow end since the start were actually good at their games. The deep end swimmers then practiced more of their games, spent more time with them, learning their tricks, but some of them were so deep end hardwired that they could not bring themselves to do it. Their failure hit them so hard that they forgot what they were actually meant for, they forgot what they had within them. Some of them quit the lessons, some of them just came for the sake of finishing their lessons, but all the deep end swimmers who failed at shallow end swimming couldn’t help but give up on themselves.
The middle section swimmers now had started picking sides, some realized that they wanted to challenge themselves to a level that they hadn’t touched before, some realized that the shallow end is where the show biz is at. During this time around, some of the shallow end swimmers felt that this isn’t something they really want to do. That maybe they are capable of doing something better, something which they could channel themselves towards and hence they switched to the deep end. The deep waters did get the better of them for a while, but the shallow end swimmers eventually got used to them.
Towards the end of our summer, everybody very strongly had chosen their side of the pool. The side-that they believed in.
Then came our tryouts, something that was bigger that the games we all played in the pool.
The try outs were simple, you had to swim through in one go. No tricks, no tactics, just plain simple strokes.
The pool this time wasn’t our pool, not the pool we knew inside out. This pool was bigger and deeper than any pool we had ever been in and most importantly, it had no sections. We all had to start at the same level, no shallow end, no middle section, no deep end. It was all the same. When the tryouts happened, the ones who were used to the depth got through, the ones who weren’t, well..
You can still find them in one or the other swimming classes, this time practicing at the deep end.