Monday, 25 February 2008


The definition of swimming is moving through water for fun; the action or activity of making progress unsupported through water using the arms and legs, whether for pleasure, exercise, or sport.

I like swimming. It’s a great leveller. What other public situation can you think of whereby you can strip off to one flimsy layer, exposing areas of your body to strangers that you wouldn’t dream of revealing in the supermarket? The funny thing is that once you’re in the pool, it’s not so easy to tell how rich someone is, what kind of car they drive, what their house is like or what kind of job they do. Perhaps there are one or two exceptions. The man tattooed head to toe in mermaids is unlikely to be a chartered accountant, the lady with the chestnut tan and long red fingernails swimming swan-like up and down the slow lane without getting a hair wet is probably not a cleaner in the burger bar; the woman with three children under five struggling to stop the youngest from pulling down the strap of her costume wouldn’t have arrived in a sports car. Broadly speaking though, people in their swimming gear are the same and come in a wide enough variety of shapes and sizes in order to negate the need for differentiation.

And so it followed that I would extend my swimming activity. On Thursday, it was reasonably warm outside so I got ready. I put on my hat and goggles too; I know that neither of these items is particularly attractive but in sportswear, the parameters are different. So I swam down the High Street and glared at people who were slower or going in the wrong direction. It was a bit chilly but not so bad once I’d warmed up.

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