30-Day Just Say No Challenge Day 30: How I Avoided Going In Over My Head

Me showing tremendous focus in my early dancing days.

Me showing tremendous focus in my early dancing days.

When I was three, I started taking dance classes and loved them so much that I stuck with them for almost 20 years.

Well, except for my short stint with ballet. I lasted two classes because I got bored just keeping my hand on the barre. I much preferred the more expressive styles like tap and jazz.

I still love to dance and recently tried something I’ve wanted to do for years - synchronized swimming.

Synchro, as it’s known, usually conjures up memories of that classic SNL sketch featuring Harry Shearer and Martin “I’m Not a Strong Swimmer” Short preparing to compete in synchronized swimming at the 1980 Olympics. In this brilliant mockumentary-style sketch, they are being coached by Christoper Guest whose character is reminiscent of Corky St. Clair from “Waiting for Guffman.” still holds up.

Watch one of the best SNL sketches of all time.

Watch one of the best SNL sketches of all time.

Aside from my incredible love of that sketch, I grew up swimming and used to do triathlons, so I thought it would be cool to marry two of my interests.

So two weeks ago, I headed to a public school pool in Chelsea to take my first class. There were about seven other women ranging in age from 20s-60s and one man aged 75 there. They all had varying levels of experience and we spent most of the time in the water doing some drills and no choreography, but I loved it.

Yesterday, we started our session by doing what’s known as land drills. This is essentially rehearsing the choreography on land before you get in the pool. Since I missed last week’s lesson, all of it was brand new to me. I usually pick up combinations (dance term for a series of movements in any given choreography) quickly, so I figured I’d be okay.

Me asking a question mouth agape, as always

Me asking a question mouth agape, as always

Four of us stood on the deck with the assistant coach observing and I tried my best to follow along as they went through the choreography. I did okay, but they wanted to go through the whole routine over and over again and I knew I might get confused. Based on my experience learning steps in dance, I’m accustomed to being taught in sections. You review the first section, run it again and maybe rinse and repeat another time before adding on the next section.

I figured that might apply here, so rather than keep my mouth shut, I decided to speak up. That’s right, I said no to that person who’s the people pleaser (I wouldn’t have wanted to be a bother and slow everyone down.) I also said no to the person who thinks she can figure it out, but is usually better off asking for help even though that doesn’t come easily to her.

I asked my fellow swimmers if we could review a few different sections a few times and really break it up into pieces. Normally I wouldn’t want to be “that person,” but I had to remind myself that I was new at this. If ever there was a time to ask questions, it was now. I also knew I could pick it up fairly quickly. I just really needed to learn it in stages.

I made sure not to ask them a thousand times. Just a couple and it seemed like it was fine. Ultimately, I was happy that I did so that I could be more up to speed once we got in the pool.

And even though we didn’t end up doing that choreography in the pool (we moved on to the next section), I was glad I said no to worrying about being a pain and yes to asking for what I wanted. After all, since we’re supposed to be synchronized, it doesn’t help anyone if I don’t know the moves. You know, I don’t want to be a fish out of water. (You’re welcome.)

Have you ever tried synchronized swimming? What would you have done in this situation? Asked a question or sucked it up? Tell me below and if you like what you’ve read, please share it and subscribe below. Thanks!

P.S. I also said no to “nose plugs.” Not for vanity’s sake. I can’t breathe through my nose. That’s right, fellas, I’m a mouth breather. I figured nose plugs wouldn’t be necessary and then I went upside down in the water, flipped over and got a shit ton of water up my nose and down my Eustachian tube.

Rookie mistake. I bought them seconds later for a whopping $2.50.