Thursday, 9 December 2010

Sink or swim

Last week I signed up as a member of the local swimming pool. I had never been there before - in fact, I hadn't attempted to swim since I was about 21 (that was a very brief attempt in the sea in Crete) and before that, a very brief attempt at 18 in Tenerife..considering I've lived with this on my doorstep for 8 years, pretty shocking lack of swimming!

We had a short stint of group swimming lessons in primary school (aged about 8 I guess) and the first year of secondary school (age 11) but I was never a strong swimmer, always very much....'freestyle' would be the polite way of putting it, 'doggy paddling' would be a little less kind...'drowning in a direction' might be most accurate! Hmm jellyfish do it with so much more style...

There were a few trips to the swimming baths with my older sister and friend when I was about 13, but I was never confident to go out of my depth and so I was often left behind, splashing about in the shallow end of the pool while the others swam into the deep end and gossiped about boys.

In short, swimming has been something that held me back literally in terms of socialising, and my inability to swim kind of became a metaphor in my life. Too lacking in confidence and strength to dive into the deep end of the first half of Laura Marling's song:

So, I decided to learn to swim. Last week, the plan was to organise going to the adult lessons that the pool run on a Tuesday night...but the weather intervened. We don't often get snow in Cornwall, and we never seem to prepare for the possibility, so when we had a shower of hail-snow hybrid stuff overnight, the town came to a standstill for a day, and slipped and slid slowly through routine activities the rest of the week.

I'm a northerner (well, kinda) and so I was perhaps a little more intrepid than most in going out in the cold. I battled (skidding like Bambi) up the hill to the local pool, which sits out on the peaceful peninsula. Having made it all the way there to organise my membership, I realised it wouldn't be too safe to go after dark while the road was so icy (the road is unlit part of the way, too) But I managed a quiet afternoon session in the week, just remembering how to swim, staying in my depth.

Feeling more confident, I went again on Friday evening, thinking the ice must surely have melted by then (ha, my thoughts on the dangerousness of the dark, icy path were proven right on my way home) but I'm glad I went after dark. The pool has a sloping wall/ceiling comprising many large windows, so effectively if you lie on your back in the pool, there is just the dark sky above you in the evening, reflecting the ripples and light and people in the pool below. Strangely soothing, and definitely good exercise, even if you only doggy paddle ;-)

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