Mr. Mo: In 2016, I became a dolphin

This year is speeding to an end. Another 365 days rounding up. It is natural to look back and review the year. Looking back, there are a handful of good stuff to the year for me. But I want to talk about what I believe was my greatest achievement this year. 

The fear of water is something that has been with me for as long as I can remember. Knowing how powerful water is and what damage it can do made me fear it. As such, I have generally stayed away from boat rides and the like. But I kept telling myself that I had to overcome this fear.


The funny thing is that the adventurer in me has also always wanted to sail and explore the seas and the oceans. How do you do that without overcoming the fear of water?

On a holiday to Accra years ago, I took a canoe ride with the rest of the family. It was a terrifying ride. I also took a jet ski ride. Perhaps the adrenaline of the speed ride helped, but that didn’t feel as terrifying as the canoe ride.

This year, I decided to overcome that fear. I devoted time to learn how to swim.

The key obstacles in my head were: 

  1. Loss of control. On the ground, I have full control. Stand. Sit. Walk. Run. Squat. Water takes that control away. I needed to become comfortable inside water.
  2. Inability to breathe inside water. This is straightforward enough. Humans are not fishes.  

The goal was to get comfortable being inside water without any props or assistance. To be able to float. To submerge and not panic. To be able to swim. To become one with this crazy element called water.

Dolphins are mammals and breathe air into their lungs, just like humans do. Dolphins cannot breathe under water like fish can, as they do not have gills. Let’s just say I got some inspiration from dolphins.

During my first few attempts, while it appeared that I quickly learned the basics of control, I didn’t do too well when it came to breathing. I got water inside every hole possible. I regularly panicked once I ran out of air in my lungs. So, I stayed in the shallow end of the pool where my legs could connect with the floor and save me. Oh; and my right ear got plugged with wax after every swim.

But I began to get the hang of things and began to actually enjoy being inside water. I moved into deeper waters and practised opening my eyes down there. In water, both speed and visual range are reduced drastically. Thanks to my science classes back in school, I knew this already. But the introduction to the experience was striking.

I am still a beginner at being a dolphin inside water. But at least, I am no longer held hostage by the fear of water. I have broken the jinx. Actually, unlike the dolphin, I am now both a land and marine animal. Whoop!

In 2016, I overcame my fear of water and learned to swim. I know some of you were born swimming, but it is an outstanding achievement for me. I am naturally more comfortable on hills and rocks. 

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