Jaqui's Daily Blog

Life's lessons in a swimming pool

Mr B says he cannot understand why anybody (i.e. me) would want to go swimming on a cold and windy winter’s afternoon.


Especially when they / I could stay indoors, in the warm, cocooned in comfort – and watch Leeds versus Spurs in the FA Cup.


But here’s the thing: once you actually drive yourself to the health club, park the car, and make it into the changing room – well, it could be any time of the year. Spending time swimming up and down, however slowly, you can easily imagine that it’s a warm, sunny day outside, that you are in a luxury hotel on an All-Inclusive Holiday, and that once you have completed the required number of lengths, you will find yourself supping an exotic cocktail in the Jacuzzi. 


OK, perhaps it does require a fair bit of imagination – especially if you have arrived a little too early for your swim and have caught the tail-end of Junior Swim which is noisily chaotic. I have a love-hate relationship with Junior Swim – I love it when I have at least one grand-child (preferably more) with me but when I am on my own it only serves to taunt me that my Magnificent Seven (soon to be eight!) don’t live round the corner like some other lucky people’s grand-kids.


My Dad taught me and my sister to swim when we were littl’uns. We have compared notes, as adults, and we are both unfailingly grateful to him for teaching us. But (and it’s quite a big but) we just wish he had taught us the front crawl instead of the breast-stroke. So much more practical, so much easier on the neck – especially when, like my sister and me, you always keep your head out of the water. In fact, it is perfectly possible that our Dad would have been more than willing to teach us the front crawl but had to deal with daughters who refused to put their faces in the water, leaving him with little option but the breast-stroke. Always remember, when you blame your parents for something they did or didn’t do, that it might actually have been your fault all along.


My foursome went to a primary school which prided itself that no child ever left for Big School unable to swim.  The school was one of the largest primary schools in Kent and at the time my kids were the school’s Star Pupils (in my eyes, if nobody else's) was divided into an Infants School, a Lower Junior School, and an Upper Junior School. Each school had its own swimming pool of the large tank variety and swimming lessons were an important part of the school curriculum in the summer months.


As a parent, I was well impressed with the school’s dedication to teaching my children to swim. It saved them from the awful fate of being taught by me, passing on  my faulty breast-stroke and turtle-like stance.  I was less enamoured of the annual job of cleaning the three swimming pools so that they were fit for our children to swim in – which fell to volunteer parents. Armed with scrubbing brushes, Vim and plenty of elbow-grease, those of us parents who couldn’t think up a suitable excuse to get out of this mighty task (think Hercules and the cleaning of the Augean Stables) gathered miserably in our playground of choice to be given our marching orders by the head-teacher.


I did try to get out of it first time round, when only two of the Darling Daughters were at school. But the sneaky teachers asked the children whose parents would be willing to help.


Maybe they wouldn’t miss just one person?  I wheedled.  The Darling Daughters looked at each other with “Who’s going to be the one to tell her?” looks on their faces.


“The thing is,” said the Middle One, “that by accident, we both put our hands up. So they’re expecting two of you....”

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Latest comments

23.04 | 20:15

lovely and heartwarming - an inspiration to us all x

09.03 | 12:07

Love this story told as ever beautifully.x

10.11 | 21:31

What a super account of a special event. I loved meeting you last night and seeing your creation come together. I’m so pleased you got so much from the activity

07.09 | 13:17

I have broad shoulders x

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