I am now in the fortunate position (currently living in sub-tropical Australia) of owning a backyard swimming pool. I swim in it a couple of times a week; sometimes only floating around lazily, keeping cool and relaxed, at other times trying out the almost lost (to me) art of breast-stroke. Of course it’s still summer here right now. Not sure if, even in this warm clime, I’ll be swimming during winter months. I suspect not.
I have memories of childhood times when, although not living in a tropical location, the summers were very hot and there were very few home pools around.
As children, my siblings and I had to be content with ‘playing under the hose’, which meant setting up a hose-sprinkler of some sort and running in and out of the spray. Yes, it cooled us, but there was always the chance of a nasty water fight or a slipping-on-wet-grass accident.
Oh, how we longed for a pool.
The only pool we could swim in meant a walk, a short train ride, parting with a few pence and sharing a public pool with another few hundred kids.
My older sister and I used to visit this pool occasionally. That we (non-swimmers) survived is a small wonder.
Here’s a memory from a public pool visit one day (me, aged about 10):
After spending days watching kids dive into the pool off the edge, I decided that I knew how to enact a ‘racing dive’ satisfactorily. It was a false assumption. But off I went: launched myself into some sort of airborne configuration and landed splat in one of the most painful belly-whackers ever. Although it probably looked as though I hit the surface in a similar way a body would, face down, hit a wooden floor, I actually did go under the water and, on surfacing, despite the pain and stinging, I tried to execute a dignified swim or lunge towards the side of the pool.
I had not counted on the blood that was streaming from both nostrils as a result of the impact. I nearly cleared the pool that day and the looks of horror and the laughter that rang in my ears made me give up any thought of diving again.
But I’m such a great, great deal older now and, even if someone did look over the fence today and have a laugh at my swimming attempts – in my own pool - I wouldn’t care.
Would I have had a deeper appreciation of having a back yard pool when I was ten, than now? Probably, but it's still very nice.
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