niina.amniisia » bits, pieces and photos from sydney, australia and elsewhere

dive you furry penguin (Thursday December 9th, 2004 - 21:28)

category: mmhuh?

I sat eating some of the freshest take-away Sushi I’ve found in Sydney this lunchtime in Victoria Park (which has become somewhat of a nice habit with the proximity to my new work) and noticed some kids – probably 4 and 5 year olds waiting to start school in the new year – receiving a diving lesson in the pool. From where I was I could see them standing on the block, holding their arms up high like the teacher showed them, and then launching themselves forgetting to bring their arms down and landing feet first in the water causing massive splashes.

I thought of the concept of diving – standing on a block you launch yourself in to air, let gravity take you while actively pushing your arms down and your legs up so you slide in to the water like a foot in to a stocking. You practice enough and you don’t make ripples because you keep your body taught.

I remembered recently wondering how and when I learnt to swim – I couldn’t recall, I think I was plonked in water from the time I was born and I just got on with it. As a wee-one there are pictures of me being held afloat in Finnish lakes, between the ages of 1 and 3 the photos show me waddling toddler-esque along beaches in Sydney. From 3 to 4 in Finland I lived in the bathtub for hours a day but I don’t remember visiting swimming pools, nor in England at 4. I returned to Sydney, turned 5, and more photos were taken at beaches and I paddled in the fish pond after the kookaburras took the fish away. Turned 6 and 7 in Finland and by then I was swimming at the lake and jumping off the pier with that fearless attitude of kids. But when did I learn to dive? To swim without floaties? I don’t remember floaties but I know I had to have had them. I remember learning to read and write, but not swim. Must remember to ask my mum at Christmas…

2 comments to “dive you furry penguin”
Dan said on December 10th, 2004 at 2:04 am:

I remember it well: vague recollections of swimming naturally at an early age, three or four, followed by a long absence from water and ensuing forgetfulness. Then, aged seven, my family went on a narrowboat trip. I had to stay at home for the first day or so, I think I’d been naughty and was being punished, then I joined them on the boat. After a day or so travelling up the River Way and environs, we reached the point where canal and river meet, the deepest point of the whole trip (13 feet, I think). I was shuffling along the narrow ledge on the side of the boat and my feet slipped off. I was still holding the roof rail with my hands, but I knew they couldn’t hold my weight for long, so I just let go. I slipped under the water, struggling, kicking, terrified. Somehow I got my head above water once, but then it went under again and I knew this time I wouldn’t be able to get back up to where the air was. So I let go, allowed myself to die, it was the freakiest most relaxing enjoyable wonderful experience ever, I’m sure I saw fish swim before my face, water weeds swaying gently with the flow of the river. I drifted downwards, waiting for the inevitable to happen.

Then in a burst of action I felt myself dragged upwards and onto the surface, my uncle had me in his arms and swam clumsily back to the bank, dragging me along. We got ashore, my dad drove the boat up so we could climb on board again. My uncle stripped his clothes off, took all of the pound notes out of his pocket and hung the up to try. He gave me one of them, but told me that next time he rescued me I would have to pay it back.

As soon as we got back from that holiday I got seriously down to the business of learning to swim. I think I was motivated more by fear of having to pay my uncle than fear of death.

niina said on December 17th, 2004 at 8:30 pm:

Eek. That’s a scary story.

The whole swimming thing’s been bugging me still. I remember the kids down the street in Sydney had a pool and my brother and I swam there. And I remember someone swallowing tons of water and flailing about but I don’t know if it was me or my partner in crime, David.. we were about 3. Strange that I can’t remember if I might have almost drowned or not. I remember trying to signal to our mothers but whether I was in trouble or David was I haven’t a clue.