Join the debate. Vote Now on the Dear Abby Poll of the week.

by Abigail Van Buren

Platonic Soul Mates Mull a Married Life Together

DEAR ABBY: I am 16 and have been swimming my entire life. Swimming has brought me so much pleasure, I think everyone should have the opportunity to experience it.

My friend "Ethan" doesn't know how. He is 18 and nearly drowned in a friend's backyard pool when he was 8. He has been terrified of water ever since.

I have been trying to persuade Ethan to take swimming lessons, but he says it would be embarrassing to learn now at this age. He also says being a nonswimmer will not be a problem because he doesn't plan on ever going near water. I still think he should learn -- in case he is ever in a situation that involves water.

What would be a less embarrassing alternative for him than swimming lessons at a public pool? -- AQUATIC IN OTTAWA

DEAR AQUATIC: Private lessons at a private pool. And you are correct that everyone should know at least the basics of how to swim. Your friend may not plan on swimming for pleasure, but he should know what to do if a child or pet should get into trouble in a pool, at the beach, etc.