If you haven’t heard of it, YouTube it. What you’ll find has nothing to do with this post. I just nicked the title.
It seems that around 20% of adults in the UK cannot swim. Well that’s no big deal, really. If we want to cross a river, we have things called ‘bridges’ that facilitate a non-soaked passage to the other side. If we want to cross much bigger lumps of water, like the sea, we have boats and planes. So no need to swim to France, getting unreasonably wet on the way and finding it almost impossible to keep your Rizla dry.
They tried to teach me to swim in school. They failed. I managed to learn pretty much everything else including metalwork (oh, the injuries were often spectacular in that one! I still have the notched shin) in which I made – surprise surprise, a model cannon. We weren’t supposed to make it fire. But it did. I think my mother still has it.
Yes, I do have an O level in metalwork. The ‘O’ probably derives from the shape of the teacher’s mouth when I leaned a little too close to the shaper machine while cleaning up a casting. I can’t be sure. I was unconscious as soon as it hit.
There wasn’t so much health and safety in those days. It was much more fun.
The only subject I failed in totally was swimming. Just could not do it. Hated being in the water.
Some years later I took up fishing. It’s not going where you think it’s going ;)
I was forced – yes forced – to take swimming lessons when I was about mid-twenties. I’d developed the hobby into fishing on lochs while sitting in boats full of fishing tackle and whisky. There was a woman involved.
Of course there was. Me, being forced into doing something sensible? There had to be a woman involved. It’s the only possible answer. Hey, we are talking about more than 30 years ago now. I haven’t always been a drunken monk.
Learning to swim in those circumstances seemed pointless. I was strapped into so much fishing gear that even if I could swim to Olympic standards, one wrong move and I’d go straight to the bottom. Not a hope in hell of getting to the bank or the boat.
Anyway, I came home to ‘I booked you swimming lessons’ to which I responded ‘You did what?’ in the same tone of voice I’d have used to say ‘You shagged a badger?’
I’ve never had to say that. Given the life I’ve led, that’s actually quite surprising.
So, okay, I bought swimming trunks and went along. Not Speedos. I have never worn those and in case there are any raised eyebrows out there, forget it. Not gonna happen. I boiught saggy ones with a good taught string to hold them up. Just as well as it turned out.
I was in the men’s changing room alone. Didn’t think anything of it at the time. Mind too occupied with water-terror to even notice. Then I went to the wet place.
Well. First properly serious swimming lesson. Eight barely-dressed woman pupils, a female instructor, and me.
So I went home after my first lesson, which consisted largely of getting into water without going into a blind panic, to be greeted with ‘So, are you going again next week?’
‘Yes, I think I can put up with it.’ A tturning point which might or might not have had a bearing on later events. Well later events didn’t turn out so good so we’ll leave those alone for now
As for learning to swim, the basics aren’t that hard. Even I managed it. With no government interference at all and even though still today, I don’t really have any need for swimming in my daily life.
So there are 2 million people who want to learn to swim. Well go and do it then. It’s not expensive and it could turn out to be a bit of fun. You get to hang around with scantily-clad members of the opposite sex (or even the same sex if that floats your boat) and with a valid and well-played sympathy card you can have a pretty enjoyable time.
You do not need government interference in this. You do not need a swimming law. Only the fake-charity lobby groups need those things.
As for me, I learned enough swimming to be able to get out of the water without drowning. Tht’s as much as I think I’l need.