A quick review of previous questions hasn't revealed an answer to my problem, so here it is.
In English we distinguish between "Can I go swimming?" and "May I go swimming?" The first question, properly, refers to ability to swim, which may include knowing how to swim, having access to a swimming pool, being able to pay the fee for the pool, having time to do it, and so forth. The second question refers to permission, and is the form my parents always insisted on when we asked if it was OK for us to go to the pool. In fact, if we made the mistake of saying, "Can I go to the pool?" they might reply rather sarcastically, "I don't know, can you walk that far?"
In many sentences in Spanish I see some form of "poder" used to mean either "can" - am able to do something - and may - have permission to do something. So, with that understanding, "Can I swim?" and "May I swim?" would both be translated "¿Puedo nadar?"
If this has been explained elsewhere, please point me to the right thread. And if not please help!
As always, ¡muchas gracias!