I remember my son (aged 8 at the time) eating his tea one day not long before we moved up to Orkney. He was deep in thought and suddenly paused, fork in hand, frowned a little and asked
”mum, do you need special training to become a mermaid?’
I’m thinking yes.
I swam all the way through my pregnancy with him. I went from zero swimming to swimming four or five times a week when I was pregnant. It all started with the clocks going back and having an extra hour so I decided to spend it at the pool and never looked back. Once my little bundle of joy was born the swimming tailed off considerably and somewhere between 0 and 17 years it ground to a complete halt. It’s a pity because I loved it and best of all lost a load of weight and actually managed to go down a clothes size while pregnant. Someone once said I was the only person they knew who actually got smaller when pregnant, not bigger.
Recently I’ve been feeling really down on myself with regards to my lack of activity. A large part of my working day is spent in front of a computer and I’ve got into a complete rut. So, knowing this is a tried and tested sport that works for me, I dug out my old swimming costume and was back in the water.
Admittedly I’ve had to overcome a few issues. The walk of death from the changing room to the pool was one. I feel self-conscious (even though no one is looking or batting an eyelid I’ve discovered) and walking on a wet, slippery floor whilst sucking in your stomach is not easy and to keep it real, there’s only so much sucking in a person can do. The second obstacle was the dreaded swimming cap. Because I swim in the morning before work I have to think practically about swimming and still getting to work on time. So for the first time in about 40 years I bought a swimming cap. We used to have to wear them as in the pool as kids and my one had flowers all over it. What ever they were made of wasn’t very stretchy, they smelled funny and trying to get the thing on your head was akin to trying to force an orange up your nostril. I’m sure it was about the dimensions. By the time you got the wretched thing on, your eyes were squished down and you could hardly see, and it usually resulted in a headache. Thankfully the modern ones are more lightweight, stretchy and slightly easier to get on. They are still the most unflattering things alive and I’ve come close to the thing popping off completely the first few goes. I still haven’t quite mastered the art but at least it’s better than the ones of yesteryear.
The final problem, of course, is the post swim – getting dressed debacle. You some how have to get dried and dressed with water dripping everywhere, and not get the bottom of your trousers wet while trying to get them on standing in a tiny cubicle that has no room to swing a cat never mind dry yourself properly. You then turn round to find your t shirt has landed on the wet floor and you’ve no idea where the other sock is. Some mornings I feel like my workout comes not from the swimming but from simply trying to get dressed afterward.
All things considered though, I’m really enjoying it and feeling much better for my morning dips.
But I bet mermaids don’t have this problem.
They probably have special training.
I’ll keep you posted!