Bohemia Village Voice  Bohemia Village Voice

For bohemians everywhere

Stephen Taylor

The Swimming Lesson

Looking out of the coach window was a reasonably intelligent, if slightly insecure, seven-year-old Suan Tilling, on his way to his first swimming lesson.
Staring out, he recalled a recent school assembly when the Headmistress told them:
“The Government have reinstated swimming lessons for primary school pupils, so remember to vote for them when you’re older! Actually, I’d better not say that, so just vote for whomsoever you want!”
Suan didn’t understand what she meant but laughed anyway as everyone else was laughing.
The coach entered the town centre and headed towards the pool on the other side of town. Once it arrived, Suan alighted. He hadn’t been this excited since the previous Christmas!
Inside, the boys filtered to the changing rooms on one side of the pool, and the girls to the other. Suan locked himself inside his cubicle, took his trunks (which were bought especially for that purpose) from his rolled-up towel and changed into them. Afterwards, he carried out a plastic box into which he’d placed his clothes, and followed the other boys to the lockers.
The pool was based on a Turkish design, complete with poolside pillars. The diving board was at one end, and the lockers at the other. Carrying his box to them, he was amazed at how large the pool was. He couldn’t conceive of how anyone could swim a full length!
Also alien to him were the sounds and smells. The echoes of excited chattering were like a cacophony of bird calls. However, the smell of chlorine didn’t agree with him: it reddened his eyes and made them sting a little.
When their time came and before they entered the pool, the new swimmers, including Suan, lined up against the railing. They lifted their left feet first, for inspection by the Senior Swimming Instructor, and then their right. He asked what this was for and was told that it was to look for infectious conditions, such as verrucas and athletes’ foot.
He noticed that some of the older children sported ribbons sewn to their swimsuits. These, they were told, were awarded for swimming a width, a length, and two lengths respectively.
The novice group’s Swimming Instructor blew her whistle and directed the new members to sit by the side of the shallow end. They were shown how to ease themselves into the water from a seated position and Suan entered the pool. Standing up to his neck in water caused a little panic but he managed to suppress it. He had taken baths before but hadn’t expected anything quite like this!
The first task that the novices were set, was to take hold of the side of the pool and kick up and down. Then they were taught to swim behind a float; and finally were shown, and practiced, how to tread water.
Suan’s splashing around was not so much like a fish, more like a whale! He was, however, amazed at what he was accomplishing!
Afterwards, he dressed with a feeling of enormous wellbeing, and couldn’t wait to get home to tell his mother. When he arrived back, he put his bag (complete with soggy swimwear) down and said excitedly:
“Mum! Today we were taught how to swim behind a float and tread water.”
“The Teacher said we did well and could possibly swim our width in six weeks or so.”
“Some of us could even represent the school at the local Swimming Gala in time.”
“That’s what I want to do!” he said with a smile on his face.

Leave a Response

Please note: comment moderation is enabled and may delay your comment. There is no need to resubmit your comment.