Amy Tries Again

Things I Like But Do Not Do: Part 1 – Swimming
February 4, 2011, 10:41 AM
Filed under: Things I Like But Do Not Do

I am less binary in my opinions than my previous rants would have you believe.  I have another list, and it is just as ripe for mining as my list of Things I Do Not Like.  This list, however, is far more likely to make a psychiatrist a lot of money some day.  I present the first entry in the twisted tome that is Things I Like But Do Not Do.

Remember how I said I didn’t like sports?  Well, there may be one enormous exception.  I used to love, love, love to swim.  I was in swimming club and went to training and had ‘my’ stroke (Butterfly, for those playing along at home).

As a good Queenslander, I was trotted off to swimming lessons as soon as…actually, I don’t know.  I have no memory of not being able to swim, so I’ll wager I was pretty young.  All through primary school, I was splashing about.  I loved being in the water, loved the buoyancy, loved to dive and kick and generally pretend to be a mermaid.

The mermaid obsession probably has a lot to answer for.  I was what you would call a mermaid enthusiast.  There was a distinct theme in my artistic endeavours at a young age, although I could never get the tail fins to look quite right.  Any visit to the beach would involve an elaborate ritual of constructing a mound of sand in the shallows, perching on said mound of sand (often with a towel draped around my legs to suggest a tail) waiting for waves to crash onto my temporary mermaid rock so I could sing a song of the sea.  LOOK MUMMY!  LOOK!  YOU’RE NOT LOOKING!  LOOK AT ME MUMMY I AM A MERMAID!

I am pretty sure this was what I was attempting to recreate.

(It was all very satisfying for about 20 minutes, at which time it became boring, and I went boogie-boarding or dug a really big hole in the sand and sat in it.)

By the time I was in year seven, I had surprisingly buff shoulders for a 12-year-old girl (Butterfly will do that to you).  I carried my post-swimming eardrops in my schoolbag so my brain wouldn’t get waterlogged.  I was usually quite tan, despite my mother’s despair and constant application of waterproof sunscreen (THE SUN IS TRYING TO KILL US ALL AMY WHY DON’T YOU UNDERSTAND).  In short: I’m pretty sure that’s when my physical condition peaked.  I was pretty good at swimming, so I was looking forward to doing it in high school.  I didn’t see myself as a swimmer.  Swimming training was just an extracurricular activity I enjoyed.  Apart from fleeting delusions of grandeur on primary school sports days, I never had any burning ambition to be an olympian or anything like that.  I belonged to Drama.  I always had.  But I was happy, healthy, and loved to be in the water.

When I began year eight, I dutifully joined swim squad.  They took it very seriously at my new school.  I went to swimming camp at the start of year eight.  It was all very organised and grownup.  I went to a few inter-school swim meets.  I liked going on the bus and getting my school spirit on.  I liked going to the canteen and buying Fanta.  I dug the smell of chlorine (I still do, to be honest).

It was the swimming part that was getting kind of boring.  I wasn’t one of the kids who was good at swimming anymore.  I was just another spotty kid doing laps.  Puberty loomed, and I lost the unselfconscious delight at splashing around.  There was not much scope to secretly pretend to be a mermaid anymore.

You can guess what happened.  Needless to say, I am not a swimmer these days.  I have all sorts of foolish reasons for not wanting to get into the water, but to be perfectly honest, my main worry is that I do not cut a fine figure in a swimsuit.  I’ve got a whole packing crate worth of crazy in that department, which I’m sure I’ll air online eventually.  For now, though, the reason I give myself for not doing a thing that I love is that I don’t have any togs (bathers, a swimsuit – whatever you want to call it if you’re not from Queensland).  If I had one, I tell myself, of course I’d be swimming all the time!  It’s not my fault that I can’t go.  Such a shame.  It would be very refreshing in this heat.

This, of course, is a very stupid excuse.  No more.  Guess what?  This afternoon, I’m buying some goddamn togs.  It may be a trying experience.  However, it must be done.  I would be horrified if anyone else cut themselves off from something they loved because they were worried about the size of their arse: so no dice, myself.

It’s what Ariel would want.


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