My earliest memories of swimming are from age 8. In New Zealand, swimming was on the primary school curriculum.  Every school had a pool! Those were the days.  Learning to swim started at least by age five so I was a little late, having just arrived from England.  All the little children filed in to changing sheds, hauled on swimsuits then plonked like enthusiastic dolphins into the pool. I remember that was just fine.  I also remember getting out was freezing and a race not to be last out of the dressing sheds.  To this day, I don’t know how all the other kids were so quick at drying.  I was always last out.

I also remember being at the town baths in the little pool, being laughed and waved at by all my classmates who were in the big pool.  But, until one could swim, one remained in the baby pool.  So extra lessons were required.  It is such a great thing to learn to swim, given we are surrounded by water and this forms such a large part of our play time.  Nowadays, there are classes for babies and toddlers.  How amazing is this – to give our young children the gift of water confidence and fun so early in life.

I remember the instructor – a big rough around the edges and she wouldn’t get away with her methods today, I’m sure! – trying to teach me breast stroke.  She ordered me out onto the freezing concrete pool walkway.  It was 7:00am and cold, cold, cold. I lay face down.  She told me that, if I was doing it right, I would feel a pain, ‘here, here, here, here and here’, as she poked me as hard as she could, in the back and then buttocks.  Shaking with cold, I giggled at being poked in the bum.  The instructor responded by fiercely whacking my butt, telling me, ‘this is no laughing matter!’.  I’m quite good at breast stroke now.

In high school, life-saving was trendy so I completed all my medallions up to and including silver.  Gold was just too much of a stretch as I couldn’t hold my breath for any longer.  A wonderful skill to have and I recommend learning life-saving and resuscitation to everyone.

Local pools represent a cheap and fun day out for the family.  Or, if you are lucky enough to have a river, lake or beach close, pack up a picnic and get going because swimming and paddling are great for the soul. Even though I have been swimming for many years, I still wear a life-jacket when dipping in the river, just in case.  Often there will be lifeguards watching to ensure everyone’s safe enjoyment of the water.   Swim between flags, if available, to ensure you are being watched over.  And always watch your kids around water – don’t turn your back for a second.

Because of water’s great weight-bearing ability, visiting a local pool can be great for rehabilitation post injury.  When I broke my leg and couldn’t put my foot down for three months, it was heaven to crawl poolside, gently plop into the water and be able to do a little, well-needed exercise.

Great for exercise and being in the moment: try swimming.

Christmas Floaties – A Poem

Plastic, pretty and plentiful, Bloated, bright and beautiful

Christmas cheer for all to gaze upon, To envy:

Mine is bigger than yours is.

Ducks, flamingos and unicorns

Waiting for breath, needing to be born

Discarded, disposed when fun is over

Air escapes, please: Take us with you when you leave.