The Mermaid Who Couldn't Swim: Lesson 1.Friday 10th February 2017
The smell of discomfort is overwhelming as soon as I open the door. The air is thick with heat and the odour of chlorine and other peoples sweat. That noise. Lockers slamming repeatedly and unnecessarily. Shoes screeching on the textured, tiled floor.Oh my god I hate swimming pools. Actually I retract that, take me to a spa any time, where I can bob around and Jacuzzi my life away.
What I actually hate is the thought of being thrust back to my school days, going to swimming lessons every Friday and being the least capable swimmer of them all. I hated it because I didn't have the natural confidence that the others had which meant I was behind everyone else from the start. Even in primary school it is definitely not cool to be the last kid in the baby pool. By the time I was in year eight or nine I was well rehearsed in coming up with excuses not to take part in the horrid lessons. Inevitably this led to where I am now. Twenty seven years old, still unable to swim and stood in a leisure centre changing room frozen with dread at what was to come.I was booked in for my first swimming lesson for nearly fifteen years. An adult’s beginners and improver's class. I think about chucking a U turn there and then and hurrying back out into the cold to the safety of my car but no, I've made it this far, I'm going to get on with it just once, if it’s horrible no one is going to black mark my attendance if I never come back.
Soon enough I'm at the pool side, exposed in every sense on the word, in a swimming costume and with all my fears being flung nervously at the swimming instructor. Luckily he’s lovely and soon I'm in the pool with the rest of the group getting to grips with the basics. I'm not about to claim that using a float in front of a life guard who looks about twelve isn't embarrassing, but it’s certainly less embarrassing when there are a handful of other people doing it too. The forty five minute session goes by quite quickly and although I'm desperately relieved to have gotten out of the place, passed the crowds of gym users who must all know I don’t belong, and to that safety net of my familiar car, I feel just a tiny sense of achievement in going.I might just come again next week.
I might even buy some goggles.
by Dock Rock