How I Learnt To Swim -- Childhood Memories (6)
February 19, 2016 1:29pm CST
I learnt to swim when I was six years old. The local open-air swimming pool in our town in the former GDR (German Democratic Republic) had a special contraption for this stuck into the rim of the pool. Imagine the two metal poles holding a lifeboat on board a ship, it looked a bit like that. I had a firm band round my chest, about 15 cm broad closed at the back, with a rope clasped in ending in an eye so that it could move along the tight wire between the tops of the two poles which were about five metres apart. The instructor was standing outside telling me what to do. When I had learnt the basics, I went to a summer camp on an island in the Baltic sea where I learnt to swim freely in salt water and to enjoy waves. My mother and I left the GDR when I was eleven years old and moved to a town in Lower Saxony on the river Weser, one of the three German rivers flowing into the North Sea. We were about 50 km south of the coast and lived with the tides. We went swimming when the tide was high and the surface of the water calm for about half an hour. When the water is flowing in or out, the currents are too strong for most people. We lived in a house with a garden bordering the river. When the tide was high, I and my friends would swing in the boughs of a weeping willow Tarzan-style and then ass-bomb into the water. When I was 20 years old, I discovered the Mediterranean Sea. I hadn’t imagined that water could be so warm, so clean, but also so stagnant - no currents, no movement. I felt I wasn’t getting anywhere however much I moved my arms and legs. I bought fins, goggles and a snorkel and discovered a new way of swimming which is more floating and only occasionally moving the arms and legs and looking down at the fish than actively swimming. After my swimming lessons at the age of six I haven’t learnt anything else. I can only do breast stroke and this not very well. Somehow my right foot doesn’t want to stay under water. Because of this and/or because my left leg is stronger, I always swim slightly to the right if I don’t watch where I’m heading. But who cares? I don’t have to arrive at a certain destination, do I?! ----- If you're interested in more childhood memories, click on the green bar 'MALUS CHILDHOOD MEMORIES' above the title.
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• Manchester, England
20 Feb 16
I did not learn to swim until I was about 10 years old. I can still remember that most of the children in my class had acquired a 1 length swimming certificate the previous year, so I was determined not to be left out. I went to the local swimming baths, where they had a shallow section that I could actually stand up in. I persisted in trying to semi float and move for a short distance until it came easier with confidence. It may be unorthodox, but I managed to acquire a 10 length certificate that year.