I think there are a couple of valid reasons I never became an Olympic swimmer.
- they do not actually have a dog-paddle event at the Olympics, and
- I was traumatised as a child, which has left me with deep psychological scars around water.
This makes me a bit unAustralian. Having access to water is almost a birthright here. Water is almost as Aussie as sharks, crocodiles, and melanomas.
Having access to beer near that water tends to bring out the dickheadishness in adults.
And so: my introduction to swimming pools came courtesy of a groan-up who thought toddler Johnny might actually enjoy being projected into the swimming pool like a shot-put.
This is another market opportunity that’s gone begging at the Olympics. Imagine eight men with beer guts and budgie-smugglers taking turns to hurl their toddlers as far as they could up the pool. Fair dinkum, it’d be more exciting than even dog-paddle.
I have to look on the bright side of my own human projectile experiences.
- The fact I didn’t float confirmed I wasn’t an infant witch.
- The fact I swallowed a bit of water probably meant I was just thirsty.
In any case, worse was yet to come.
I went to a school in the 1960s that sent its pupils for bizarre swimming lessons.
I say ‘bizarre’ because what else do you call a swimming instructor who walks along the side of the pool with a long wooden pole that he uses to prod kids trying their best to stay afloat. Head up, bottom up, breath.
To be fair to the bullies with the sticks, they probably thought the pole helped kids not to drown.
From my perspective, drowning me was exactly what they were trying to do. If nothing else, being struck by a pole adds new meaning to stroke correction.
But I shouldn’t have worried. My school was so pious that I’m pretty sure that pole had been blessed by the archbishop, and any child who did actually drown would go straight to heaven, whereby they could trade in their water wings for actual wings at the Pearly Gates.
This leads me to another thought.
God probably has one of those pool poles. Memorabilia. Where do you think the props from Ben-Hur and The Life of Brian went?
A friend did a relay swim crossing of the English Channel a while ago.
Good on her, but I’ve told her I won’t be joining her any time soon.
Not only do they probably frown upon dog-paddle in open-water attempts, I’m worried God might be all out of thunderbolts, and is delivering spiritual guidance with his stick these days.