Sunday, 6 February 2011

Week one: Not waving, or drowning, but something inbetween

There's a bajillion things it's probably unwise to inhale. I'm going to suggest that water should be toppermost on that list. It's a shame that I learned this the hard way - especially at the end of what had been a really brilliant first swimming lesson, that was as far removed as possible from the experience of school swimming lessons.

My second school-based experience of being 'poolside' took place at Lochgelly High School. It was a literal pool-side experience; I didn't even touch the water. I managed this by asking my mum to provide me with a variety of notes claiming menstruation, ear-ache, cholera, leprosy - you name it, I probably managed to get a note off my mum citing it. I don't think I even owned a swimming outfit by this time. Oddly, Lochgelly High School* was, years earlier, the location of my first ever swimming experience, and that experience probably contributed significantly to my overall fear of water.

Being as terror-filled as I was at the prospect of getting into the water, I took the only course of action I could think of; I walked right up to the edge of the pool and jumped in face first. No floats, no goggles, no nuffink. I didn't even know not to try to breathe in.

There were two pretty simple lessons to be learned from the consequences of this:
  1. Get swimming lessons - proper ones
Obviously, I learned neither of these things. I instead chose to believe that swimming and me just weren't meant to be and I spent most of my 20s taking the 'just jump in' approach to pretty much every thing I did. Bravo.

Anyway. Finally, after 31 years of being alive, I've (mostly) managed to stop and think before jumping into things, and I'm definitely over telling myself that swimming isn't my sport. I arrived at the lovely Glenogle Swim Centre for my lesson feeling more than a little bit nervous, and getting in the water wasn't exactly a fun moment. But it was nothing like the horrors of school swimming lessons. For a start there were people there who were different - different in that they were just there happy to be themselves. Lesbian peoples! Gay peoples! Bisexual peoples! Transgender peoples! Heck, maybe there were even a couple of straight people. It was a lovely accepting environment to be in. And then there was the teacher, Andy.

Andy was dead nice, but not so much that he was going to let me employ my tactic of face-not-in-water. Andy is very much a yes-face-in-water teacher. He was also good at giving me a simple wee task and then going away to help someone else for a while to let me try it out in my own embarrassing manner. There was no hectoring, no snarks, no having to be worried about showing yourself up or feeling self-conscious. In fact everyone was really supportive and looked out for each other. I'm not exactly the touchy-feeling type, but even I was able to appreciate being in such an environment.

We started with holding the side of the pool and kicking. This is very boring. I think Andy sensed this, as he soon told me it was time for face-in-water. Not at all boring and not at all fun the first few times you do it. It was also not something I managed to achieve with any grace at the start. I started to get good at it though - and after a remarkably short time, was even enjoying it. By the end of the lesson, I was *gasp* actually able to 'swim' half the length of the pool with a float and with my head in the water, only coming up when I needed air.

Sadly I sullied my excellent (even if I do say so myself) progress by becoming a little convinced towards the end of the lesson that I had actually turned into a fish or sumfink and stupidly took a big breath in, while my head was still in the water. In swimming terms, this equals #fail. I strongly advise against ever doing this - it really hurts and you might die. It's also really fucking embarassing.

Apart from that though it was aces. And meeting the ladies (Hello Meister!) in Nom De Plume for some nosh and beer afterwards was the best. Roll on next week. Roll on swimming the longest distance in the world. And roll on buying a maseeeev new pair of goggles.

* I also hated this school.

1 comment:

  1. This is awesome girl - I remember all my love of swimming being temporarily undone by the few years of school swimming, being made to participate in house swimming galas and do 'chain races' where you had someone holding onto your waist and basically dragging you under the water. I went through a lot of bad excuses to try to get out of that one. Character-building, I DON'T think.