“Come swimming,” insists the LTLP.
The thought does not appeal. I make my ‘I do not want to come swimming’ face.
“Go on,” she says. “I always have to take the Toddler on my own. Come with us. You’ll enjoy it.”
“I will not enjoy it,” I reply. “I don’t enjoy swimming.”
“You enjoyed it at Centre Parcs.”
“I liked going to the pool at Centre Parcs,” I clarify. “But that was because it had loads of water slides and stuff, and you didn’t have to actually swim. You could just go down the slides, and that meant I could shut my eyes and hold my nose and still enjoy myself without any swimming being involved.”
“Well I thought you’d like to see how well she can swim,” she responds, waving at the Toddler whom she has previously bribed to look sad because I might not go swimming. “And perhaps look after her for a bit, and I can actually do a few lengths rather than just stand there holding her hand.”
“No – I really don’t want to go swimming,” I reply, closing the conversation.
I go swimming.
I do not understand why swimming is meant to be a thing that people universally like. If I were a keen bagpipe player, I would be very happy to invite my friends and family to share with me the enjoyment of playing the bagpipes, but I hope that I would understand if they didn’t share my enthusiasm for bagpiping and wanted to do something else, e.g. play the banjo. But if you turn down the offer of going to a swimming pool then you are suddenly looked upon with suspicion, like there is something wrong with you.
It is not as if I am a non-swimmer, as I can easily do a length before I get tired. It is the fact that swimming is very much like ice-skating – once you have been round one way, then been round the other way, there is really very little else to do except more of the same, unless you are really good and want to try all the dangerous twirly-whirly stuff.
“Take that expression off your face,” demands the LTLP, as I stand in the shallow end holding a long foam-rubber thing that may or may not be a buoyancy aid.
Going swimming with a small child is basically exactly the same as day-to-day childminding on land, with the added concern that somebody might drown on your watch. I try to explain that it is no good putting me in charge, as I would be unable to perform any heroic rescue acts as I don’t really like getting water in my nose. But I am looked upon as a contemptible non-aquanaut. There is a snort, as the LTLP zooms off doing 1000000mph freestyle.
I know people do not believe me – but there is no great hidden reason why I am a nervous swimmer; no huge trauma from my childhood etc etc etc. I just do not much like it, for no reason at all.
There are other people in the changing rooms as I exit the pool. I hold my towel round me tightly and try to get my pants back on without them seeing my thingy.