To Swim

When I was about 8 or 10 or young, my mum started to take me for swimming lessons. She felt it mandatory, having grown up as a youngun on the banks of the Murray in Victoria. Our trips would involve parking in the Monash Uni gravel parking lot (it may have been concrete but memory escapes me) and we would buy our token to get through the gates into the pool area. That token never made sense, we already seemed to be in the building.

I would wade and paddle, eventually being able to swim a few metres here and there. The bigger challenge towards the end of the Bronze Medallion (yeah, I got a medal) was to swim in full clothing, including a knitted jumper, and pick up stuff from the bottom of the pool. Essentially, it was testing my abilities not to drown. And I survived, got my Bronze Medallion and never really swam again.

Swing forward 30 years and there I am, sitting in the pool in Iceland. This place has inspired me towards a little fitness, and what better way to do it than in a little pool filled with nice people who take a breather in the hot pools, the hot wading pool or the hot spa. Beside me swims a family, mother father, and two young girls. The littlest one, not more than 4 months, cushioned by those orange floaties that are ubiqutous for safety for kids.

But the other child, not more than 4, was anxious. A few metres away from her father, she breathed in and out heavily, amping herself for the oncoming adventure. It would seem that this was her first floaty-less swim.

I can't remember those moments from my own childhood, possibly to young in the memory bank, but I watched with a knowledgeable smile as she prepped herself for her big moment. Then with a push of her little feet, she moved forward, albeit a little on the sinking side, and swam towards her father who happily collected her from near drowning.

But what I saw. The grin from ear to ear. That new experience. A first. Her first. Her proud and happy first.

Turning corners are like that, no matter how old you get. And being here is like a constant set of corners.

Tomorrow, I am driving a car, on the other side of the road, on the other side of the car, through mountains of white.

Mini panic, and a new adventure.

Just breathe. Just breathe.

And go.


Justin Batchelor