I used to think ghosts were scary. Or those horrible Scream masks. But now I’ve discovered something far more terrifying – daring to go swimming in the half term holiday.
My first mistake was going to the swimming pool with recently washed/styled hair and perfectly acceptable make-up. (Throughout the late 80s and early 90s I watched in awe as my mother swam lengths of the pool with perfect coiffed hair, without so much as a splash on her Foster Grants. I’ll just do the same, I thought.) Sadly, it wasn’t to be.
The relative calm of the car park lulled me into a false sense of security. After my toddler and I had run the gauntlet of the changing room (drains cobwebbed by rank bits of hair, and a random child trying to shove his half-chewed armband into my little boy’s swim nappy) we emerged into the pool area to an immediate assault upon the senses. Shouting, screaming and a distinct whiff of wee, with a side of shoving thrown in for good measure. We elbowed our way through the crowds to get into the water and I was pleasantly surprised to find it was as hot as a bath. The smile quickly drained from my face as I realised we were surrounded by small children concentrating, so after dodging our way into a slightly less-warm zone we finally discovered a bit of space to splash about in.
Now, am I the only one who finds it quite odd to be bobbing around in a pool of water with a load of strangers who are only slightly clothed? I find it weird. Every time. I don’t know what it is about a heaving swimming pool but there are no situations where it is OK to brush a naked limb against a stranger unless they say you can. I don’t care if you ARE swimming – I do not appreciate toes in my ear, thighs touching my forearm or hairy backs grazing my cheek. I was accidentally groped more times today than I have had hot dinners in my entire existence. No one apologises, no one looks embarrassed and no one stops to say thank you. I think swimming pool etiquette in our neck of the woods needs some serious addressing.
Another problem I have is why women have to cover their breasts when plenty of men sporting a near C-cup are allowed to leap into the water without a care in the world. I would much rather see an actual breast than a hairy man boob (and if I am ever Prime Minister I’ll definitely make sure Parliament debate this). I have never wished this before, but when we got out to escape to the whirlpool I desperately hoped the hair that was caught between my fingers was someone’s discarded pubic hair, rather than a moob hair. This is not something someone should have to worry about when they have paid £9.50 for the privilege.
Finally, when my nerves and my eyes had just about had enough, I decided we would make our way through the throngs of shrieking teenagers towards the baby pool. Just then a massive kid, who looked like the lovechild of a Sumo Wrestler and a Tombliboo, decided to dive bomb right in front of us; landing on my knee, drenching half the people in the pool and splashing even the photographer who was standing ‘safely’ in the viewing area. I’m afraid I just about lost it then. After telling Tombliboo-boy that he should learn the rules of the pool (no petting, no bombing etc) we got out, stormed past said Photographer (waving his camera at me rather optimistically) and took a hasty shower. I love swimming with my little one but I have to say the overall experience was pretty horrendous. I even saw someone squatting down with their trunks off between the plastic palm tree and the pirate ship, which just about summed up the afternoon.
I used to hide behind the nearest bush when I saw a Scream mask. Or run the other way if I thought I saw a ghost. But now I’ve taken on the hell of half term swimming and survived to tell the tale there’s nothing that can scare me from now on. After all – hell hath no fury like a woman splashed.