When officials asked Boston Celtics forward Brandon Bass to present at the 2014 Golden Goggles Awards, an event hosted by USA Swimming, he made his decision as quickly as he would go full steam to the basketball rim. Bass presented the Perseverance Award at the event in New York City. He seemed a perfect fit.
The 29 year-old NBA vet only learned how to swim last year. His seven year-old son started learning years ago and his daughter is taking classes now. Bass couldn’t let his kids swim off without him. “It’s tough. It seems like the easiest thing in the world but it’s not,“ he said.
Bass is 6-foot-8, 260 pounds of solid muscle, but only took the challenge to learn to swim last year. He began taking private lessons but also jumping in sessions with children who were also learning to take their first stroke atop the water. He started volunteering his time and efforts to inspire children and their parents to get into the water. The challenge, he said, is mental as much as it is physical.
Learning to swim clearly comes with the fear of drowning. But he faced that head-on and suggests others do, too: “Some stuff you’ve just got to do it,” he said. “Being that I’ve got kids, I can’t be scared.”
Bass grew up in Baton Rouge in what he called a “concrete jungle” with no access to places where he could swim. But now he’s thinking of his own children.
Parents often vacation with children in places with oceans and pools and Bass called that an “accident waiting to happen,” adding that parents should also learn to swim for their kids' safety.
Bass claims that he can swim now, although the pool in his home in Orlando is six feet deep, still shallow enough for him to stand in. Plus, he still can’t float.
Luckily, Bass doesn’t spend much time in the pool during the basketball season. His Celtics are currently holding a 4-8 record and trying to stay afloat in an Atlantic Division that is essentially a race for anyone to catch up to the streaking Toronto Raptors (12-2).
“We’ve improved in a bunch of different ways that last year didn’t show," he said. "I think we still have a lot of room to grow. Even in this month of November, we’ve been in some close game where we just didn’t get over the hump. It shows that we’re right there."