Drowning, not swimming

And getting back to the important stuff…I’m not going to be critical of my local leisure centre. No way, since over the last couple of years we have become firm friends, and i am more than a little appreciative of the support they have given me.

Espesh through the incident of the threats at the changing room door…

But this is about swimming and, well: we didn’t do things this way when i was young!

I refer, of course, to the speed at which kids nowadays learn to swim. According to my dad, his own dad had a simple no-nonsense approach to this, taking him at age 4 to a riverbank and throwing him in.

The idea was that he would either learn to swim (or at least float) – or he wouldn’t…at which point, i hope it would have been grand-dad’s intent to leap in and save him. Though this was turn of the last century eastern europe. So maybe things were done differently back then.

Fast forward to my own childhood and i really don’t remember learning to swim. Sure, i remember cold swimming pools, loads of nasty stuff going on in the shower area (cause back then it was all communal and one stripped off and risked both physical abuse from the nearest towel flicker as well as verbal, from those older and better endowed who felt this gave them absolute right to comment on your own physique).

I also remember the days when, moving up to my senior school, i discovered a) that they possessed an outdoor swimming facility and b) that PE lessons regularly descended on this pool in March! Eeeeeek! No. Brutality!!!!

Nonetheless, i have no recollection, through all of the above, of actually LEARNING to swim. We would hop about in the shallow end and gradually make our way into deeper and deeper waters. At one point, those less able to swim were allowed to hold on to the sides a bit.

Later, this was frowned upon.

I remember diving for black rubber bricks. I also remember inflating pajamas as part of a life-saving course. I also remember an age of embarrassment stood (and refusing to jump from) the top diving board one week.

But never learning. Which is sort of what a lot of my contemporaries remember too. They sort of went swimming with the school and at some pint started learning different techniques.

Whereas nowadays…well, after nearly two years in the water, the boy has finally graduated from small to big pool and is awarded the coveted yellow rubber cap…though after that comes, i believe, blue and green and all the colours of the rainbow. How many stages before he is deemed able to swim?

And why is it taking so long? (OK. I know part of the answer to that has to do with a reluctance on his part to listen…an enthusiasm for wrestling with the other boys and similar). But still…is this something modern?

Or am i just turning into a grumpy old woman? It wasn’t like that in my day!!!

Dunno. Intrigued, though, by other parents’ experiences on this front.

Jane xx


2 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    Alex said,

    Don’t know if this helps, but in 1962, or 3, at the age of 6 or 7, I joined the local swimming club, learnt to swim in 6 weeks via structured swimming lessons and did my bronze, silver and gold personal survival awards in pretty quick succession by the age of 8 or 9. At the same time started competing for the club at local galas, ending up club champion at the age of 13.

    My daughters learnt to swim over what seems like a much longer period, and although my eldest completed her bronze survival, her style (or lack of it) always made her look as if she was on the point of drowning. Of course, by now parents were kept well away from the pool side so there would have been no last ditch attempt on my part to jump in and save her.

    But only last year, she achieved one of her lifetime ambitions – to swim with dolphins, off the coast of New Zealand, in their own natural habitat.

  2. 2

    Paula TransPanther said,

    I was thrown in the river Wye at Hereford by a caring father. Under the bridge that runs across below the General Hospital, Suffice to say.. I learned to swim there and then. I would have been about 5.. it’s a very clear memory. I also remember being the only kid who could swim when we started going with school and proving it by jumping in the deep end on the first day.. no floaty things for me thanks.

    Being trans gave me so many body image problems that I haven’t been in a pool or swum anywhere since I was around 11.. Can’t say I feel any desire to do it, in fact I’m not keen on large expanses of wet stuff at all.

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