© 2013 . All rights reserved.

My Malaysian Swim Team

This is where I was in peninsular Malaysia throughout 2012:

Being surrounded by many of the world’s finest beaches, you’d think that they swim more than they walk. But swimming doesn’t mesh well with Malaysian culture. Malaysia is a place where exercise is foreign and where white skin is the new tan. It’s a place where the assumption when one enters the ocean is that it’s only a matter of minutes before you drown in a two-foot wave or get swallowed by Loch Ness.

In our ~18 yard pool, the average time after lesson #2 was 47 seconds, and only two of the 27 students could swim the 18 yards without stopping to tactilely confirm that the pool’s bottom hadn’t vanished. Three months later, that average dropped to 33 seconds, with every single swimmer completing the pool’s length without touching the bottom.

Towards the end of the four month class, I received one of my favorite text message responses:

Another quite memorable moment was on the last day when most of the Malay girls asked me for permission to take off their tudongs (hijabs) in the pool. After 10 months in Malaysia, seeing their hair felt quite X-rated indeed.

More images here.

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