The Depths of Memory.
I am a timid swimmer. Ten minutes of being bullied by the waves is enough for me so, toes groping for the slippery rocks beneath, I make my way back to the safe embrace of the sandy beach. I spread my towel on the warm, soft sand and feel the sun chase away the dread of the water. I lie down to read but gradually my book falls from my hand as I doze. I am dreaming the dream.
Falling, tumbling through water, deeper and deeper, engulfed by murky green with bubbles rising up from the depths. I feel no fear, only a sense of overwhelming relief and an inexpressible sense of escape.
I wake with a start. How can I be so calm in the dream when in my waking hours the very thought of drowning terrifies me? I scan the turquoise ocean for my daughter’s head, sleek as a seal, as she swims fearlessly and joyfully. I quell the panic that rises, knowing that Izzy would dismiss my anxiety, reassuring me that only in the sea is she truly in her element; free. She has no thought of drowning.
Was my fear of the deep born within the walls of the damp, echoing swimming pool where we eight-year-old girls changed into our regulation navy blue swimming costumes and white rubber caps that pulled viciously at our hair? Was it nurtured by the two angular swimming instructors dressed in severe grey skirts and blue jumpers, shod in galoshes as they marched along the edge of the pool?
While one barked instructions as we stood in the shallow end, the other would single out a child and picking up a curious metal hoop attached to a long pole, would loop the ring over the girl’s head and under her arms in order to drag the hapless victim along in the water. Gradually each child, thrashing her arms and legs like a captured frog, somehow learned to swim.
How I hated the humiliation of being the last to achieve sufficient mastery of breast stroke to avoid the hoop, only for my accomplishment to bring new anxieties. I dreaded nearing the deep end on each endless length but more than anything, I feared the ritual that would follow.
If you would like to read the entire story, it is published in Greenacre Writers Anthology Vol - still available for 5.50 + p&p
Greenacre Writers Anthology Vol 1
or as a download for 39p at AlfieDog
Beautiful writing, Lindsay. I stopped what I was doing, despite the usual morning rush and chaos around me, to read this. It left me wanting to read more. And it reminded me how painful those swimming hats were. And how terrifying those lessons could be.
Many thanks - I really want the book!
Mighty fine excerpt. I didn't learn how to swim until I was 16 -- too scared of drowning prior to that time. Now I love it; but the fear still raises its head every now and then when I least expect it.
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