I don’t want to go swimming

2 May

  L2 has moved into the Big Pool at long last. He is a child whose perception of his swimming ability leapfrogs his actual swimming ability, so this has been a long time coming.

His new lesson necessitates a mad dash to the pool after school, which is hectic but overall makes the evening more civilised. When we first got to the pool at the new time, it was almost completely empty. Sitting safely in the bleachers comfy and non-wet, the sun streaming in and a virtually unsullied water surface beneath me, I felt a romantic surge of desire to be in that water. Turning to L1 I said “We should definitely swim next week.”

Oh, how foolish, how short-sighted of me. This statement constituted a promise, and forces me to uncover one of my darkest parental secrets: I don’t like going swimming.

Actually, this is not strictly true. Swimming in certain circumstances – abroad in the near-Tropics, for instance; in a spa; on a hotel rooftop; in the sea (with or without waves), that sort of thing – these are all more than fine. My dislike of swimming in leisure centres in the UK started with general distaste for the changing rooms – squelchy mush from what on earth between the toes; discarded hairbands and discarded actual hair; plasters with something yellow on them entrapping you at every turn; the faint but omni-present tang of urine – and moved on to the whole general experience – the fact that it is always much colder than you expect; the difference in temperature between the very top surface and anywhere beneath; those drains in the side of the pool and even worse those drains at the bottom; the fact you don’t know what is in the trough beneath the poolside and you have to put a foot in there to get out – honestly the list goes on and on and on.

Yet I don’t feel it would be wise to share this distaste with my offspring. Already prone to squeamishness around items and events that I dismiss as over-pampered, I can hardly share this one with them, especially as I believe swimming is a crucial skill to master and most importantly because they love it. 

The odd involuntary exclamation of horror has escaped my lips in a swimming pool while in their presence – when I saw the cockroach, for instance, and his semi-decapitated friend; and when the smell of wee was identified as actual wee in our cubicle –  and I do urge speed in the changing rooms at all cost (but I disguise that effectively beneath a veneer of concern regarding over-zealous traffic wardens). But mostly I have to grit my teeth, get a grip and use the medium of this blog as therapy. 

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