Trying a new activity doesn’t mean that you have to suddenly take up an extreme sport such as rock climbing or scuba diving, it can be something simple or something that maybe you tried as a kid but have let slip to the roadside since.
I’m the product of two very different parents. My mum’s grey-blue eyes and my dad’s brown eyes mixed to give me multi-coloured eyes. My dad’s very academic, and my mum’s a sportswoman with a knowledge of physical biology. I’m not really either, but I am very artistic (I think my genes gave up on this one and decided to head in a totally different direction). And my mum is an excellent swimmer, and my dad can’t swim. When I say my dad can’t swim, people assume that he just never learnt. That’s also what all the swimming teachers at his local pool assumed when he started taking lessons there. They soon changed their mind. My dad proves the theory wrong that all humans naturally float. Since a young age, my dad has literally been able to walk along the floor of a swimming pool right up until the deep end. He’s quite happy down there, and he accepted long ago that he’ll never be able to swim properly. He just wants to be better at it than he is now, and that’s why he goes to his lesson every week. My mum, on the other hand, grew up swimming in Lake Windermere. My dad was the first person she’d met who couldn’t swim, and I think before that she’d always supposed that it was instinct. I wouldn’t be surprised if my family made bets on whether I would ever be able to learn to swim. It didn’t look good for the first 10 years. Although my mother optimistically took me to the local swimming baths every week, it looked like I’d inherited my ability in the water from my dad. That was until my last year at primary school, when our new headmaster decided to come along to our weekly swimming lesson with us. I will always be grateful to Mr Dempsey for that. Until that day, no teacher had ever actually got in the water with us. Us kids who couldn’t already swim were usually left in the shallow end whilst the swimming teacher busied herself with the children who didn’t need to learn (figure that one out). I genuinely learnt to swim in one day.
I’ll never make it to Olympic standard, or probably anything more than 50 laps at a slightly lob-sided breast stroke, but I can swim. Whilst I was living in Greece, I found swimming a great way to keep in shape. Working as a rep is a very busy and unpredictable lifestyle, so making plans to do anything is virtually impossible. You usually get free access to hotel pools, though, so going for a quick swim was an easy option. It also keeps you cool in the 45 degree heat! Since I’ve moved back to the UK, I’ve tried to continue swimming. I try to go to my local baths at least every couple of weeks and swim 40(ish) lengths. As well as being great exercise, it’s probably the only time of the week when I relax and empty my mind. Thinking about it, I must look like a swimming zombie because I really zone out sometimes.
I’m hoping to be able to fit some private swimming lessons into my schedule over the next year, so that I can learn to swim properly. Although I can swim on top of the water, and underwater, I never got to grips with the breathing properly so I can’t go in and out like you’re supposed to. Until then, I’ll continue with my forty lopsided lengths.