Swimming With Armbands

One of my earliest memories is of my first trip to the swimming baths as a kid.

It was with school and I remember us being lined up along the side of the pool in what I guess would be a test to see whether we could already swim or not.

When it got to my turn, I got in the water and promptly sank.  Given my obviously now partial memory of the event, I can only assume that I jumped in, presumably thrashed about in an attempt to not only float but actually propel myself, but failed.

The bit I remember is looking up and seeing the surface of the water rippling and someone coming to get me.

While some of the other kids went to the other side of the pool afterwards, I think I was given a pair of arm bands and the option to thrash about a bit more in relative safety.

In truth, my swimming has not got much better.  I joined a pool last year but had not much success.  From the demoralising aspect of having to have a break every two lengths as the two pensioners repeatedly powered their way from one end to the other, the fact that it appeared to be aggravating my sore back that it was supposed to be helping and also that I visited said pool four times and was only able to get in once because of lessons and over crowding, I haven’t really had much desire to go back.

My swimming is “utilitarian”.  I like to think that it will serve a purpose, and that’s that if I survive the initial impact of a plane crash in to the sea and that crash happens to be somewhere near a coastline, I might not die.  I can’t remember if I’ve actually been on a boat since I sprayed my half digested fry-up over a French family on the way to Euro Disney as a 7ish year old but, besides, if a boat sank at sea there are probably a number of other factors than the ability to swim any great distance that would affect survival.

Looking back at my first lesson, though, I wonder in how many circumstances nowadays you would be given the option to fail before being given the chance to try again in a different way, with help.  The safest way to have learnt would have been to have the armbands on straight away, learn technique and then gradually progress.

I’m talking here both literally and metaphorically, though, because I see so many instances whereby someone decides that you simply can’t do something without trying to coach you in to it, without seeing fear of something you haven’t done before and help with that because you just might be good if given the chance.  They see failure straight away without potential to see what happens with a bit of help.

As I approach, within the next three months, the start of my potential unemployment, the one thing that struck me is that I’m yet to get anything I’ve actually applied for in life except for credit cards and bank accounts.  Despite having worked for 12 years, I still haven’t had a successful (real) job interview.  I’ve never dated someone where I’ve done the courting and I’ve managed to woo a girl (yes, that might be because I live in the 40’s with words like that!).

And yet I’ve always backed myself if given a chance.  When I screwed up my A-Levels, I still backed myself to make a success of university if they’d have let me do the course I wanted to do.

I guess that’s the thing I’m looking at at the moment because the affair isn’t really bothering as much as I expected it would as of yet.  Will someone actually (what feels like finally!) take a chance on the basis of potential and, if needs be, give me some armbands to help me out?

You’ve gotta swim
Swim for your life
Swim for the music
That saves you
When you’re not so sure you’ll survive
You gotta swim
And swim when it hurts
The whole world is watching
You haven’t come this far
To fall off the earth
The currents will pull you
Away from your love
Just keep your head above

I found a tidal wave
Begging to tear down the dawn
Memories like bullets
They fired at me from a gun
A crack in the armor
I swim to brighter days
Despite the absence of sun
Choking on salt water
I’m not giving in
I swim

You gotta swim
Through nights that won’t end
Swim for your families
Your lovers your sisters
And brothers and friends
Yeah you’ve gotta swim
Through wars without cause
Swim for the lost politicians
Who don’t see their greed as a flaw

The currents will pull us
Away from our love
Just keep your head above

I found a tidal wave
Begging to tear down the dawn
Memories like bullets
They fired at me from a gun
Cracking me open now
I swim for brighter days
Despite the absence of sun
Choking on salt water
I’m not giving in
Well I’m not giving in
I swim

You gotta swim
Swim in the dark
There’s no shame in drifting
Feel the tide shifting and wait for the spark
Yeah you’ve gotta swim
Don’t let yourself sink
Just find the horizon
I promise you it’s not as far as you think
The currents will drag us away from our love
Just keep your head above
Just keep your head above
Swim
Just keep your head above
Swim, swim
Just keep your head above
Swim

Swim by Jack’s Mannequin

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