A young playwright named Dan taught me to do flip turns. It was 1993, and he was teaching a swim class at NYU, where we were both graduate students.
Once, we met on Mercer Street, and I startled him when I said hello. “I didn’t recognize you in your clothes,” he said. I rather liked that Playwright Dan only saw me in my swimsuit, but I was hurt when I learned that he didn’t think I was a very good swimmer. After watching me swim, he asked what kind of exercise I did. Just swimming, I told him. Couldn’t he see that? I’d taught myself to breathe on alternate sides, and I’d built up my stamina so that I could swim 40 lengths—twice what I could do in college. But I’d never been on a team, and no one had helped me with technique. Dan helped me improve my freestyle stroke, taught me to practice with a pull buoy, and finally, got me to try doing flip turns. But it was quite some time before I actually mastered them.