I love water. I like swimming in it and sailing on it – in fact, any kind of boating will do. When I have a shower, I stand under the running water for far longer than I really should – I just love the sensation of the water on my body. I even like drinking the stuff.
The question you’re asking yourself now is: why the hell is he telling us this?
Well, the train of thought came about as I was contemplating sharing some of my experiences a month or so ago when I took off for a week and expanded my range of sailing skills down in the Canaries. There were plenty worth sharing – not all directly related to the sailing itself. But it left me reflecting (you might have noticed I do that a lot) on my affinity with H2O.
Some would say it’s because I’m a Pisces, but only Capricorns really believe that astrology crap.
Personally, I think it’s been a range of experiences that have combined over the years to give me a very positive feeling about water.
Funnily enough, I didn’t actually start swimming properly till I was about nine, so that doesn’t sound like a promising start. Yet I seem to have spent a lot of time in swimming pools throughout my childhood. I could probably list a dozen pools just to prove a point, but as they won’t mean anything to most of you I’ll spare you.
There was one pool, though, that really stood out for me. This one belonged to a college a couple of miles away from where I lived, and you could buy season tickets to the leisure facilities there. The facilities were limited – apart from the pool, I can only recall tennis courts and a putting green. But the pool was enough.
It was outdoor, I would guess Olympic sized, and had some neat little twists to it. The walls surrounding it were built unevenly from large stones or rocks, creating a kind of grotto effect. There were overhanging sections to shelter under as well as different levels to sit in, all adding to an effect that it wasn’t man-made. To a child’s eyes, that was certainly the case.
At the shallow end there was a waterfall – great fun to stand under and, with water flowing over your head and body, you had a sense of immersion without being completely underwater.
At the deep end, three concrete diving boards rose up and curved out over the pool. Actually, to call them “boards” is probably a misnomer, as they were very solid, with no give in them whatsoever. The only time I dived off one, it felt as if my skull split open as it connected with the water, so I decided against diving from them any more. Bombing, on the other hand, was still an option.
There was a springboard as well, jutting out only inches above the water level. Ideal for young pirates made to walk the plank.
In one corner, a slide offered another route to immersion. Unlike the plastic slides you encounter these days, this one felt as if it was made of porcelain. Indeed, there were times when you wondered if someone had used it as a urinal before you went down. Not that it deterred you for long. The thrill of sliding down and plunging to the bottom of the pool was a big enough draw to cause you to put that thought to one side.
You might imagine, then, that with this playground for a setting, the positives would be big enough to build up my connection with the water. But my dad made a difference too. He was clearly a keen swimmer, always looking for opportunities to get in a pool. And he made it fun. It never occurred to me that it would be anything other than fun. It wasn’t unusual to see him lying on his stomach at the side of the pool, then slither forward and into the water. We knew then we were about to be hunted down underwater by a “crocodile”, and it created that feeling you get with a horror movie: you know you’re safe really, but you still feel that terrifying thrill.
Apart from my personal phobia about all things reptile, this approach to swimming always struck me as being the right one. Similarly, there were times when he’d get me and my sisters (not all at the same time, in case you’re wondering) to ride on his back while he swam, picking his moment to become a submarine.
So, for one reason or another, I’ve had very positive associations to water and being in water from a very young age.
Before I move on, though, I’m curious: does anyone else out there feel the same as me? Or are there any of you who feel the complete opposite? And is there anyone reading this who knows the pool I’m talking about? More importantly, does anyone have any pictures, because I couldn’t find any on the Net.