Sunday, November 23, 2008

A good teacher

Have you read Alice C's latest post concerning her planned meeting today with Eurolush?

I almost wet pants from laughing so hard, but then...once the laughing stopped...well....I began to feel strangely sad and lonely. Here I sit, in my little home in Australia, so very far away from the exciting meeting of these two fabulous women, hmph. I must be patient and wait.... I am at the mercy of their future posts...I am paralysed....PARALYSED. So I cheer myself up by talking about something that neither Alice C nor Eurolush will experience today. Oh, they may well be skipping around London while holding hands, sipping tea, shopping at Marks & Spencer's, riding on double-decker buses, admiring each other's coats, gushing over each other's children, but I can be fairly certain that neither one will be swimming, and here at Commentbox headquarters it's all about swimming.

So there.

Now, where was I? Oh yes. Today I swam laps at this incredible pool. Did you notice the wave-like ceiling? The entire building is filled with light and is quiet and peaceful, the water is sweet and heated to a perfect temperature, the "slow" lane was filled with pensioners doing the breaststroke which made me feel incredibly fast in comparison. I am an extremely slow swimmer (I barely move forward at all), but my technique is perfect because I taught myself how to swim freestyle from a video which I borrowed from the library, and it is a genius method. Genius.

Three years ago I decided that I really wanted to learn how to swim freestyle so that I could join in that great Aussie pastime of swimming laps. Having moved from country to country throughout my childhood years, I never learned how to swim properly. Oh sure, I could stay afloat and my breast-stroke was almost decent, but that was the limit of my ability. Now, I am a firm believer that one can learn anything from the library. Given enough enthusiasm and a jolly good search for the right teacher's book anyone can learn anything. So I went to the library and discovered a video instead, well...it's almost a book.

I watched the video and made meticulous notes, I read the notes several times, and then I made my way to the pool of my dreams - the pool in which I yearned to swim laps. I started in the kiddie pool, and was so embarrassed that my cheeks actually blushed hot as I practiced, but I was driven. I'm telling you - driven. After several weeks of heartbreakingly slow practice I finally made my debut in the slowest lane of the Olympic-size pool, and I actually swam an entire lap without stopping. It was one of the happiest moments of my life. I breathed on the side facing the massive panels which had been painted by Wendy Sharpe, and they are truly at their best when viewed while swimming.

That blessed summer I swam laps in some of the most beautiful pools in the world (none of which can be found in London, hehehehe). In this outdoor pool, the water is salty and slightly heated, when breathing on the right I can see the harbour and the yachts, on the left are the towering fig-trees of the Botanical Gardens. After my swim I can stroll up the road to visit the Art Gallery of NSW, what could be more delightful?

In this pool, the ocean water is clear and crisp, and when the tide comes in white-frothed waves wash over me. I swim laps while looking down at the tiny schools of fish, starfish and anemones. After my laps I order a latte and a slice of banana bread and I sit and look out at the horizon.

Before I go to this pool, I usually like to visit the library and find the perfect book, because you see....this pool is literally next door to the most beautiful old library. Yes, I couldn't have created a more perfect place in my wildest dreams. You see the big white house to the left of the harbour pool? That's the library!! There is the most magnificent garden leading from the library to the pool.

This library talk now brings me back to that little video which I found in my local library and which started it all. The swimming programme which I followed was created by John Konrads. One day, a good year after I had first discovered Mr. Konrad's wonderful swimming method, I was swimming laps at that first, original pool of my dreams, and who should I see as I was walking towards the lockers but Mr. Konrads himself!! I had watched him so many times as he described his technique to me over and over again on the library's well-worn video that I felt a jolt of electricity run through my body. Naturally, I did the only thing any self-respecting lap-swimmer could do, I approached him, introduced myself, and thanked him for changing my life. My gushing words of adoration took him by surprise at first, but he recovered quite quickly and in the true spirit of the greatest of all swim teachers he said "So, you're remembering to relax the kick? You're pivoting your body? Remembering to relax your body and look straight ahead?" Yes, yes and yes, I nodded enthusiastically and stared at him adoringly, there is nothing in the whole world as good as a good teacher! Nothing!

That was all a few years ago, my daily routine soon changed and my life became much more hectic. Swimming became a chore...a hassle involving getting wet, changing clothes and chlorine-coloured hair. But today I returned to the water, and like a duck to water I swam laps once again. As I swam up and down, up and down, up and down, taking in the light and the sound and the feel, I thought to myself "I must share this experience with my blogging friends," and here I am, doing just that.

So, good night to you all, and thanks for swimming alongside me this afternoon.

13 comments:

Duyvken said...

Darling Eleanor, will you come north and have morning tea with me?
I also love swimming but have not swum for years now. Ever since I have had a little one to be minding my time at the pool is spent protecting, splashing and teaching. I love it but your post reminds me of how nice it is to get in the (grown ups) pool, watch the black line and swim up and down. Curiously, my post tonight is also water related - we've all got summer on our minds.

blackbird said...

I feel exercised and refreshed!

(and I thank you for distracting me while I wait to hear about Alice and Eurolush)

The Coffee Lady said...

oh I wish I was swimming alongside you in your wonderful pool! As for Alice and Eurolush, look, you had a LATTE. Unless I am shown documentary evidence that they had a latte too, I am convinced that you were having the better time.

Tuli said...

What blackbird said.

(Lovely post. I loved all the links.)

RW said...

Eleanor,
You described swimming so well - I thought about taking it back up but then you got to the part about getting dressed half wet and I remember how much I dislike that in the winter - and reason came back to me.

Now we wait for Eurolush and Alice's adventures.

Anonymous said...

HA. They have no idea what the just missed. I love swimming!
Paola

kmkat said...

Wow, you have some absolutely STUNNING places to swim. My favorite is the ocean pool.

Blue Mountains Mary said...

Oh Eleanor - we should have spent the day together - I would have watched you swimming laps and then we could have had coffee and held hands ourselves and wondered at what the two of them were doing.

This is the most lovely summery swimming post ... do you read fifi ?

kim at allconsuming said...

Well you know, there's nothing to stop US from getting together...

trashalou said...

Is it wrong to say that 'Ian Thorpe swimming palace' place makes me feel a little naseaous?

alice c said...

So...
no pressure...
I go and spend a morning with Eurolush and her divine family and a small section of Australia grinds to a halt waiting for me to write about it. I am telling you I nearly expired with fright last night before I pressed the publish button.

Jen said...

Whine! Now I'm all wet and cold, and the chlorine's turned my hair orange.

BabelBabe said...

wow do you have some lovely lovely pools! I am envious! I love to swim but it's hard to find places to do so in the winter here (at least at reasonable prices).

that's incredible that you taught yourself to swim. I am so impressed.