It won’t have escaped your notice that the pic accompanying this blog is of me in water.
Taken by a friend, in a swimming pool, on a happy day in Italy, it is one of the few photos of myself that I like.
I think it’s because I look genuinely happy !
That is the effect being in water ( and in Italy ) has on me.
I learnt to swim when I was 4.
My beloved Irish grandfather had bought me a new red and yellow rubber ring, and together, in the sea in Worthing, we launched it.
As I tentatively took my feet off the bottom of the sea bed and let them dangle in the watery space, my love of swimming was born!
And I’ve loved being in water ever since.
A warm and salty ocean, a pool, or even, at times, a river.
If there is some water nearby and I have the chance, I will always take the opportunity and the plunge.
I don’t mind if the water’ s cold.
Years of bracing English seaside holidays with my family. My father standing no nonsense, as my brothers and I stood shivering in home- made towelling robes, our noses running, being told off for getting our feet sandy again after they had been washed off with a salty bucketful.
My idea of heaven is a wild Cornish sea, and as long as I have a wet-suit top covering my shoulders, I can happily body-board and catch waves all day.
The promise of a Cornish pasty, chips and a steaming mug of tea from the little corner cafe keeps me going too.
But if the sea is an Italian one, and the waves gentler, then to frolic and bob about under a Calabrian sun, and to exit the ocean knowing that I can bask in some serious rays as I dry off, is a delicious prospect!
In my first blog, I wrote about space, and I think it is the same sort of feeling that I get when I swim that makes it so pleasurable for me.
In the pool, at the end of the day, I can find myself in a meditative state.
Worries melt away as I enter the water.
And most of my fellow swimmers, wherever I am, are just so nice!
Nodding peacefully to each other as we don our goggles and pick our lane.
Respecting the quiet, knowing it is the time most of us just like to be with ourselves.
I love the way that my arms and legs and head cut through the water.
I’m not the fastest or most expert of swimmers, but my stroke settles into a rhythm that’s comfortable for me, and my breathing slows to match- just as it does during yoga.
Reflection comes easily for me there, but it has a dream-like quality, very therapeutic.
And I love to just watch the water and the bottom of the blue pool go by, lining myself up with the darker navy of the lane marker.
Counting the lengths and finding a calming rhythm also in that.
And when I’m done, after my 20 or so lengths ( and I do like a satisfying number, so if not 20, then it’s 30 ) I climb out feeling clean and satisfied, and as though I’ve washed away all the grime of the day ( yes, I do shower first, for those at my club! )
Knowing too, that all I need is myself and a costume and I’m all set.
No special equipment, just my body and the desire to swim.
Thats my happy thought today.
Clean body, clean hair and a refreshed mind. And then the satisfaction of knowing that sleep is so much better when I’ve swum.
And getting into clean sheets after a swim has just got to be one of the best things ever!
So, if in doubt, and no matter what life throws at you today, be guided by Nemo…and…
Just Keep Swimming !