Monday, December 14, 2009

Feel;ing Sorry for Rebecca

So why wasn't she in the water?

I was watching a programme about The Great North Swim, which, you may remember, I have entered next year.

Sitting on a boat, talking about all the elite swimmers, was Olympic champion and Nottinghamshire lass Rebecca Adlington.

The first thing that I thought was - - oh, yes, that's what happens to your shoulders if you swim every day, very fast, for years and years. It happened to my shoulders a bit, and that's because I swam about twice a week throughout my childhood, though I suspect I did it very, very much more slowly than Rebecca.

And then the second thing I thought was - - pleasant, down-to-earth lass - - but why isn't she in the water? Because if I were an Olympic swimmer, and if lots of the swimmers I knew were competing in the Great North Swim, I'd probably want to compete too.

Also, I thought, if she's a swimmer it's surely because she loves swimming. And, therefore, why on earth wouldn't she want to swim in Windermere, on a lovely sunny day?

But there she sat, in a little boat, showing no desire at all to get in the water. Too cold? You'd think an Olympic champion would be made of sterner stuff.

Finally, one of the presenters of the programme asked the question, on behalf of all the viewers. "Why don't you want to take part?"

Rebecca explained that she never swims in lakes, and she never swims in the sea. Paddling is as far as she'll go. She's terrified of fish and of anything else that might be lurking in the depths.

I was really shocked. I love swimming in the sea: I love swimming in lakes: I love swimming in rivers. To be a champion swimmer, with the ability to get through the water really fast, in the freedom of the outdoors - - oh, it would be wonderful!

So here we have an Olympic gold medallist in swimming who's never swum anywhere else than in a chlorine-filled pool. Yes, swimming in swimming pools is good - - but an indoor pool is a poor second-best to an outdoor pool, and an outdoor pool comes second to the sea, or to any open water that's suitable for swimming.

It's true, I hate it when I tread on a flatfish and it wiggles. I don't like it much when I see a jellyfish nearby. But all that's so well worth it to me for the trade-off of splashing in waves, of watching boats in the distance, of swimming without lane markers or the end of the pool, of hearing the sound of seagulls above me. And, of course, last year in Florida, of seeing fishing pelicans dive into the sea beside me. Just wonderful.

All Rebecca has done for years and years is to plough up and down lanes in a swimming pool at a scarily fast speed: and that, to me, is only one aspect of swimming. Poor, poor girl. Olympic gold medallist, maybe, but she just doesn't know what she's missing.


Blogger rhymeswithplague said...

Wow! You've been to Florida?

7:41 pm  
Blogger Grumpy Old Ken said...

I've had a damaged shoulder for many years. would you believe it is from hours of kite flying and boomeranging in days gone by!

8:43 pm  
Blogger Daphne said...

Bob - - Yes, I have. But I probably didn't think to mention it. (!)
Ken - - I love flying kites but I can see that in a strong wind it would certainly not be good news for your shoulder. But I didn't mean that Rebecca's are damaged, actually - - I just meant HUGE!

8:54 pm  
Blogger Jennyta said...

I learnt to swim in a river - the Garonne in south west France, actually and I loved it. I also live swimming in the sea.

9:12 pm  
Blogger Yorkshire Pudding said...

You're right Daphne. When at the Mediterranean, there's nothing I like more than to spot a distant buoy and swim out to it for a rest while I look at the distant activity on the shoreline. Up and down a pool all day would be really quite monotonous and sad. I learnt to swim in Lake Garda in Italy. Poor Rebecca - not to have enjoyed this other side of non-competitive swimming.

12:46 am  
Anonymous Milo said...

Good for her having won a gold medal but it's sad that she doesn't swim in the great outdoors. Chlorine pools are incredibly dull and lifeless, where is her sense of joie de vivre? Swimming only indoors sounds very manufactured and contrived. Reminds me of the Williams sisters playing tennis.

I last swam in the sea in the south of France in September. Really enjoyed it.

1:11 pm  
Blogger rhymeswithplague said...

I last swam (if you can call it that) in the sea at New Smyrna Beach, Florida, on the Atlantic coast between Daytona Beach and Cape Canaveral. Daphne is now positively green with envy.

2:56 pm  
Anonymous Milo said...

This is very, very you."

9:04 pm  

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