Swinging Life Lessons: Treading Water


Swinging Life Lessons: Treading WaterOne of the great ironies of my life is that living as I do so near the ocean, in addition to plenty of lakes and ponds, I do not swim well. I was a skinny teen, and as a result was much more likely to sink to the bottom than to float. I never grew comfortable swimming over my head, and have a mild fear of deep water. Most of my swimming has been close to shore, or very close to something I can stand upon or hold onto as a crutch against my fear.

As this winter came, I realized my exercise program would be curtailed by weather (how curtailed I would not know till the snows came, then kept coming). I joined the YMCA a few months ago, and have varied my running program, with an occasional swim.

George Carlin once said, “Swimming isn’t a sport. Swimming is a way to keep from drowning!” I mentioned before I do not swim well. I resemble not so much a salmon in the water, as some ungainly struggling water mammal. I usually prefer salt water to fresh, as it is easier for me to float. Also I have lost about 20lbs from exercise and quitting drinking, so I sink even easier now, compared to when I started. It is far easier for me to run a 5K, than to swim even a few laps.

I don’t quite know what possessed me to head to the pool today. I suppose I was continuing to face my fears and try and grow beyond them. It was early in the morning and the only people at the pool were two senior citizens and the lifeguard. Well… at least I am not likely to injure anyone else if I drown today.

Entering the pool, all my muscles tensed. I spend more effort fighting my own tension, rather than actually treading water. A simple backstroke and the water approached my mouth and nose only a few times. After a brief mini panic attack, I realized I am in the deep water and I am on my own, but I stuck with it and after the first lap it started to get easier.

Then I relaxed.

That is to say the muscles I was using were only the ones needed to move me through the water. My legs no longer felt like two rubber bands fighting for dominance, my neck and shoulders lost rigidity. My breathing eased, only a little and I began swimming… for real. It was kind of like that moment when your first bicycle starts balancing on its own and you get this aha moment. I am actually doing it! While I continued a few laps, pausing once or twice to catch my breath, I wondered if some of my physical struggles swinging were similar.

I love going to parties. I have come to enjoy meeting new people. I have learned how to be the best person I can be and how to ask consent, and as a result I am now seen as one of the “good single guys” and get invited back to parties and orgies. (Ned Stark says nothing said before the …but… really counts)

…but… I continue to suffer from performance anxiety during sexy fun times. At first it was an exasperating bother. Here I am surrounded by sexy people, some of whom even want to play with me, consent has been given, why do I have nothing going on? Now, it seems as if it has become more of a familiar companion. From previous Swingset episodes, advice from Dylan and Cooper has been very reassuring. This isn’t unusual, you have other tools…don’t freak out! But after a half year of clubs, parties, etc…it is becoming tiresome.

My partners have been very understanding, especially if I explain I am a diabetic, and it has nothing to do with them. But then after the party, frequently on a long drive home alone, I am hard as a rock and need to relieve myself. I have been more than a little hard on myself during some of these moments with mocking self-accusations. “Only you would need to masturbate after an orgy… after not performing at an orgy at that!” I recognize these are not constructive voices, but they are giving voice to my fears, and like it or not, those fears do exist.

An unusual idea occurred to my while swimming laps…perhaps my fear is not that I will not be able to perform, but that I will succeed. What does that mean for me, what does that mean for who I think I am? It may mean that I am truly in control of my destiny and I am personally responsible for all the interactions of people I play with, rather than being channeled into only those interactions with those whom are willing to play with me. It puts the onus on me to drive, rather than sit back and let others come to me. I think I suffer from a bit of Groucho Marx syndrome. I do not think I want to belong to any group that will have me as a member. I recognize that this is not a very positive atitude, and I am trying to change it.

Cooper posted a tweet recently a line that spoke to me so much; I placed it on one of my online profiles. It reads…

“Going to my first play party in ages….I will be confident. I will be without expectations. I will not sit and wait for people.”

I think of it as a swinger litany against fear (I am a bit of a Dune fan boy, sue me).

I swam about ten laps today, a modest beginning, but after a 15 minute cool down in the sauna, I felt great! By not fighting myself, I am able to do the things I need, as well as the things I want. The next step is to stop fighting myself during playtime, just relax, and enjoy…real-­time.

I have sexy time planned within the next few days, and am hoping to find it in myself to relax, stop fighting myself, and use only the muscles I need to use, a salmon struggling to tread water.


The Salmon is exploring swinging and poly as a married single. Married for over 20 years, he and his love explore non-monogamy together and in different ways.

1 Comment

  1. Salmon: Again, a very introspective and insightful post. The more I read of your adventure the more envious I am. My wife and I had a talk about including others and in her mind that would constitute a betrayal in spite of the fact that I am not getting the sex I want. You are indeed a lucky man. Keep up the great writing


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