My mother’s father was a great swimmer. When my mother and her younger brother, Craig, were children, they used to hold onto their father’s shoulders as he swam in the sea on family holidays in the Westcountry. It was an abiding memory from my mother’s childhood which she shared with me countless times, I suspect, to urge my own father to learn to swim, just in case he should want to avoid drowning. He never did learn to swim, but as a land-lover who didn’t risk enormous mugs of tea, he never felt the need.
In the summer of my eleventh birthday, I was very busy. I learnt to ride a bike, having been excessively nervous for two solid years beforehand because of the impending Cycling Proficiency Test at school. It wasn’t until that last year, the term before the test was to take place, that we were told it was not compulsory. I was furious. Two years of solid fretting and I felt rather annoyed that I was not going to be made to mount a bike and immediately fall off it in front of the entire school.
Anywho, in the summer between primary and high schools, as previously mentioned, I was busy. We went on holiday to Canada. I learnt the entire soundtrack to ‘The Bodyguard’. I learnt to ride a bike. I started ju jitsu classes. I went horseriding. I went fishing. I learnt to swim.
I got pretty good at swimming. I don’t remember what distance I could cover back then, but I know I had a good number of certificates to prove it.
There was a moment, a few weeks back in the painfully early hours of the morning, when a thought popped into my head.
“I must go swimming.”
Now, it was not, “I must go swimming at some point. Perhaps when I have a costume, maybe even, dare I say, goggles?”
Neither was it, “I must go swimming once I have learnt the opening times of the nearest leisure centre with a decent-sized pool and some lanes marked in those floaty blue things.”
It was more, “I must go swimming. Now.”
Luckily, I can tell the difference between me-determined and me-overtired, but I think a time will come when I will have to locate the late night opening times for the nearest leisure centre.
I imagine their version of late night will differ wildly from mine, but still, I think I will go swimming. After all, I love it.