As Sunday lunchtime approaches, and my thoughts turn to roast chicken, and roast potatoes and gravy and .. mmm … nom, nom, sorry … I find myself instead sat by the poolside watching my youngest swim with his Dad. I should point out that I don’t have my own swimming pool (yet!) … and we’re just at the local sports club.
I have never been a great swimmer, more of a ‘keep your head above water at all costs’ type of swimmer. Probably influenced by years of summer holidays with Mum shouting, “Mind my hair, mind my hair!” as her head was raised three head above sea level. Mind you, a whole can of Ellnett meant that nothing would have budged that hairstyle.
Two years ago, however, I found myself tired of being a terrible swimmer. On yet another one of my keep fit benders, I thought I’d give swimming another go. Quite how I’d get fit from two lengths of head-above-water breaststroke, I don’t know. I knew what my arms and legs were supposed to do, it was just the whole underwater thing I wasn’t so keen on. Being a student, I couldn’t afford private lessons (£15 per hour – really?!) … so I turned to that other great swimming guru … YouTube.
I studied video after video of how to swim correctly; how to breathe underwater, how my head should turn from side to side, and how to co-ordinate my arms and legs – preferably all at the same time. I then went to the pool three or four times a week and practiced what I’d learnt. For the first month, I was crap. I mean, really bad. I was knackered after a length, I swallowed at least a litre of water during each session and I generally looked like I was having an epileptic fit.
However, after a month of studying and practicing, everything just clicked into place. It seemed to all be about the rhythm (ah, like with so many things …), and breathing was key. Kinda obvious, but I had finally found a technique to suit me.
I took my youngest for lessons from the age of three and as I watch him now at six years old, he has a great foundation from which to build upon. The best thing though, as he has always seen his Dad and I swim, is that he absolutely loves the water.
Now, his Dad and I take him most weeks. We ensure that, as much as he has to practice swimming every time he comes with us, the majority of the time is spent playing Lord of the Rings or Bakugan (no idea what that is either), underwater. Invariably I lose, but ultimately I have gained, because now we can all swim together and no-one is now shouting out, “Mind my hair, mind my hair!”