My River Story

Alana Wood, Staff

The Ozark Rivers in Missouri are a perfect place to swim in the summer. 

Green trees would supply comfort from the harsh elements. 

Rivers that fed the scenery were always full of trout and the dragonflies that made their homes near shore would always dance along the surface. 

My mother and I would go there every chance we could in the summer. When she would invite friends to come camping with us the first thing we would do was jump in the river. Because of how young I was I didn’t know how to swim yet so I’d have to float next to my mom in a  bulky pink and purple life vest.            

When I got a little bit older I’d start to try and take my floaties off. I wanted to be able to sink down and squeeze the mud between my toes. My mom would always tell me that I wasn’t allowed to take them off because my floating skills were far from proficient. She would try and teach me when she had an off moment, but I would always insist I knew what I was doing. I would make both of us frustrated and stop trying before I was any closer to having the ability to float.

This painful cycle of not understanding how swim was starting to get to me. I felt like I knew enough not to drown in the deep. Every time I went out swimming I would purposely try to kick myself away from my mom, but I’d always be scooped up before I could get too far.

One day, when I went down to the sandy shore with her friends I told all of them I knew how to swim. I dove head first into the water without my floaties and proceed to be swept into the undercurrent.

The water was stronger than what I told myself I could handle. It was difficult to stay above the surface, and it grew harder by the second. All of her friends weren’t paying attention to me so they hadn’t noticed me start to drift down stream. I could feel my hair whipping around me as I tried to manicaly squirm my way out of the water. It was no use, it was rushing by me so fast I thought that I would never see the surface again. 

All of a sudden I felt two strong hands hoist me up by one of my ankles. The first thing remember hearing was a loud “ You can’t swim!” from my angry mother. Then the feeling of being drug out of water and laying down on the shore. My lungs have never hurt as bad as they did that day. 

She was livid with me for lying to her friends that I knew how to swim. Even more so she was angry that I refused to acknowledge I didn’t know how to do something. 


  After that experience I learned to accept that I didn’t know how to do something just because I’m determined to do it. It takes time and effort to truly master a skill enough to not drown. I still use this lesson today. Whenever I try to muscle through something, I always try to take a step back and ask someone how to properly do something.