Big 50 No 2: Swimming

Ahh swimming.  I am a complete water baby.  Ever since I can remember I’ve been going to the local swimming pool, or the beach, or a waterhole, or creek, or something.  All my life I’ve loved swimming or playing in water.

I’m not a fast swimmer, but I’m a strong one with a high endurance.  I can plough away through water for ages, at my own steady pace, completely in the zone.

I don’t swim very often these days.  That comes from years of humiliation at the hands of bullies at public swimming pools or the beach, for daring to be a fat woman in the water.  I want to change that but my local swimming pool is very unwelcoming to anyone who just wants to have a swim.  If you’re not swimming club/squad/competitive, fuck off, is the message most people get when they attempt to go up there for a leisurely swim.  Which is pretty pathetic for a council public pool.

Oh how I love the beach, but don’t really have a way to get there myself, because I don’t drive.  I love the lull of waves, that lovely sleepy-boned feeling you get after spending some time in the surf.  I love the saltiness of my skin after swimming in the ocean.  I love the rhythm of the waves, it feels really relaxing.  I even love getting salt water in my sinuses – even though it’s uncomfortable and unpleasant at the time, it feels GREAT afterwards.  The only thing I don’t like is sand.  Blargh!

When I was a kid, we used to get sent to the local pool completely unsupervised.  I think I must have only been about 10 when we first started going to the pool on our own.  My younger brother would have been 7 or 8.  They didn’t have lifeguards then either.  We just got on our bikes, rode across town, paid our 60c and then spent the afternoon at the pool, usually being kicked out at closing time with a bad case of sunburn.

All kids learnt to swim at school right from first grade.  I can remember always loving swimming lessons, except that I couldn’t actually swim properly.  Oh I could do my own kind of style of moving through the water, getting from A to B and keeping afloat, but I couldn’t do the freestyle stroke that we were supposed to learn.  I just couldn’t get the kicking and the arm movements to happen in the right order.  When I was about 12, I was at the pool in my Grandparents town during school holidays, and I was mucking about in the water, and something just clicked, and I found myself doing freestyle.  I couldn’t believe it, it just kind of happened.  The following year the woman who ran that pool took me aside and asked me if I had considered long distance swimming, because “You have such a graceful stroke my dear.”  She told me she expected I’d swim the English Channel one day!!  Yeah right!

I also remember being sent to swim in swollen creeks when it had flooded.  Being kicked out of the house and told to go play in the dam or creek.  Of course, I doubt people would tell their kids to do that now, but we always had a great time.  Coming home coated in muck from the floodwaters and tales of damage we’d seen.

We also used to play in storm water drains when I was a kid.  I can still map out the entire storm water system of Rosewood, the town I mostly grew up in, in my head.  We used to find patches that had guppies or tadpoles, or if we were really lucky, crayfish, in them to poke about in.  We made nets out of old pantyhose and coathangers, and would take softdrink bottles we’d scrounged to carry the guppies and tadpoles in.  I seem to remember always being smelly in those days.

It’s time I did something about swimming again.  I miss it.  And I’ve now got the confidence to stand up against the haters that think fat women shouldn’t appear in public in a bathing suit.

Do you like swimming?  Are you a water baby?  How did you learn to swim?


October 30, 2010. Big 50, swimming.


  1. Kerri replied:

    Have car will drive you to any beach you like whenever you want – this summer we shall swim together – well you can swim i will thrash about like a person being accidentally electrocuted! You know to yell at me when i am sans ears and we shall have fun together – screw the morons/haterz/ignoramuses!

    • sleepydumpling replied:

      Thanks Kez! Let’s just do that. I reckon we could both use the chillax time.

  2. sweetnfat replied:

    What a fantastic post! I sincerely hope you can find more, better opportunities to swim soon.
    I love swimming, but am not sure when I learned. I feel like it’s something I’ve always known, as I can’t remember a time when I didn’t swim. The past two years, I haven’t taken nearly enough time to swim. I only swam in the lake ONCE this whole summer. I’ll need to take a vacation and live at the lake for a little while. Swimming at the pool in the spa doesn’t count for much, as it’s only 4 feet deep. :p I want to get waaay over my head.

    • sleepydumpling replied:

      We don’t swim in lakes much in Australia. Dams sometimes, but not that much (farm kids all swim in their dams though). We’re really a beach culture, cos we’re all crowded on the East coast!

  3. mimbles replied:

    Ok, I started writing and it was turning into an epic, so I’m going to blog it instead!

    Short version: I adore swimming, so many of my best childhood memories include being in water and when I had kids and long before I’d ever heard of FA I made a decision that my body issues (or more to the point, other people’s issues with my body) were never going to stop them having the same wonderful experiences.

    Long version on my blog later, when I’ve finished it 🙂

  4. Kylie replied:

    I like being in the water but can’t swim. Because I didn’t catch on very quick in school I was pretty much ignored by swimming teachers (WTF? Isn’t that the point?) So I still can’t swim! Then as I was bigger than other kids I always felt bad about being in togs which added to the swimming fail.

    Anyway, it’s been ages since I’ve gone to the pool. I’d love to go back.

    • sleepydumpling replied:

      I’ll go to the pool with you cupcake! And I’ll splash about with you instead of swimming.

      • Kylie replied:

        Awesome! I may actually buy my first ever bikini for it. I’ve wanted one for forever but have been too scared to get one.

      • sleepydumpling replied:

        I can’t get one with enough support in the boobular area. I do have tankini’s though.

  5. Jenn replied:

    I *LOVE* to swim. Oh my parents had to drag me out of the pool. Because of my hearing impairment though I was never allowed to go off by myself or go swimming by myself. I took swimming lessons as a kid, but kept getting ear infections so after a few classes, I was taken out. I never did learn how to swim properly. I can do a breast stroke and do the back one and stay afloat.

    I live next to Lake Huron, but the water is too frigid for me to swim in comfortably. I would like to go to the public pool but I’m banished from there because of chronic eczema. I haven’t gone swimming in gosh… 15 years if I did the math right.

    • sleepydumpling replied:

      I think that water would even be too cold for me, and I swim in the winter when I can!

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