So I took the plunge.
No more paddling with the under 5s in the shallow end of the pool for me, no siree -time to learn to swim like all the other grownups. I got myself a coach, optimistically invested in some goggles and turned up 45 minutes early to my local pool to hang around the changing rooms terrifying the other patrons.
Let me put this in context for you. My fear of the water is so great that even my monumental pride goes out the window. If you’ve ever seen a grown woman hovering at the edge of a pool/the sea/a puddle wearing arm bands, that was probably me. I don’t care how small the child is that stares and points, you can’t make me.
YOU CAN’T MAKE ME.
But then, in a moment of madness, I decided that I could make me and booked in a lesson before I chickened out. I also spent an awful lot of time congratulating myself about this initial phone call, not realising that the worst was yet to come. If I thought about it at all – and I tried not to, believe me – I pictured myself and a kindly butch woman who would stay by my side, keeping me afloat in serene waters and saying lots of soothing things. The lovely Liz is not like that. For a start, she never even got in the water! Now that’s just lazy. Although her sense of self-preservation may just have been particularly acute. I probably look like I would drown others just to keep myself afloat.
So she stood at the edge with a not-very-reassuring pole (with which to fish my drowned body out of the pool. Nice.) and told me to swim. Bizarrely her no nonsense attitude coupled with my desperate need to please strangers meant that after about 15 minutes, I was. A miracle! There was barely time to tell all the passersby about my swimming genius before I realised I then had to learn to stop. Luckily there are some very reassuring concrete walls which brutally did the job for me. It’s the stopping that’s dangerous, that’s where the gaspy, water up the nose, thrashing like a caught fish, comes in.
It’s a whole new fear.