By Sue Trollip
Once upon a time I was afraid of swimming alone.
Not because I feared drowning, though given my swimming expertise, it should have been. My fear stems from an intrepid dislike of what lurks in and around pools and this includes frogs and goggas (which are any small, buzzing and clingy insect).
I grew up in a proverbial one horse town. I say proverbial because there were, to be honest, a lot more horses than humans in the area but, my point is it was a tiny town with arctic winters and the few days of summer were spent splashing in the river. I’m excellent at that. Although there were swimming lessons at primary school and compulsory galas at high school somehow I never managed anything more than a well below par, arse-sinking, arms-flapping-manically backstroke. The good news is that I can float. Why I have no fears of drowning is incomprehensible to me, but that’s the
way brains work … or don’t.
Instead I shudder when contemplating the crawling, buzzing bugs and their amphibian friends. Damp frogs that leap like baby dinosaurs into the water, flapping tsetse fly like creatures that get
caught in my hair and those crunchy black beetles that like to cling to your bathing suit. Ooh noo!
Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not one of those wimpy girls that screams at the sight of a bug. I’m rather handy at sweeping frogs off the veranda, shooing things out of the house with a newspaper and even, sorry to my Zen friends, slapping my shoe over a lurking, creep-crawling potential hazard. The problem arises when I’m in the pool because then I’m defenceless, no broom, no shoe and no oomph for the high speed escape.
What the presence of another person at the poolside would accomplish, I’ve got no idea, but Gran always said a fear shared is a fear halved. Or was that a worry. I don’t know. It doesn’t matter. It just makes me feel better.
So, yes, I’m that weird woman that walks around the poolside several times checking the corners and the filters before getting into the water.
Then there was a breakthrough …
On a sweltering humid afternoon when glowing in drips (because nice girls don’t sweat) I dashed to the pool and leapt in before any melting could occur. One leap. So simple. As I swam up and down to rid myself of some chocolate overindulging guilt, I realised that I was maturing, maybe even becoming sophisticated. I clamoured out feeling proud of myself. This could be the year to conquer fears I thought settling down onto my towel and reaching for my book.
A movement in my peripheral vision made me whip my head towards the water. Something was shimmying across the pool. Perhaps the size of a pencil, with its head up as it wiggled through the water. I gaped then gasped then leapt to my feet, grabbed my towel and book and ran for the house as the little snake hoisted itself onto the top step of the pool.
This story, as you’ve probably realised, has no happily ever after because now instead of being afraid, I’m petrified of swimming alone.