Thursday, 5 March 2009

Swimming and Me

I love swimming even though I’m not very good at it. When we go on holiday I love swimming in the pools whatever kind of water it is and no matter what the temperature. I have to swim at least once a day.

It must be something inbuilt and I've never admitted this before but
I've often had nightmares where it's the last day of my holiday and for some reason I haven't been into the pool. Talk about panic, I'm demented. Maybe it's a metaphor, something to do with getting older and you haven't done the things you really wanted to do. I don't know. Sometimes I really wonder about myself. Good job I've never seen a psychiatrist.

Anyway I can swim quite a few lengths but I just can’t put my head under the water so I’ve never been able to do the crawl. I’ve always envied those people just effortlessly gliding up and down the pool doing the crawl. My son in law has a wonderful smooth style, barely a splash and he taught himself to do it. Well I’ve tried, but without putting my face into the water, what a farce.

When I was approaching sixty, I had that feeling you get when you start to think about all the things in your life you’ve never done. A bit like that Bucket List film I should think. I kept putting off doing anything about it because I have to say putting my face into the local swimming pool full of chlorine and other nasty stuff just didn’t bear thinking about.

Well last year they opened a new Aquatic Centre in Sunderland, about 7 miles from where I live. Until this pool was built we didn’t have a 50 metre pool in the North East, the nearest were Leeds and Edinburgh, over a hundred miles in each direction.

Opening Night at the Aquatic Centre © City of Sunderland

It's a weird looking building from the outside and has lots of derelict land which hasn't been landscaped. I gather it's part of a redevelopment area and at the moment they're going through a public consulation. Still you think they would have tidied it up and put a bit of grass on it.

Front Entrance

Side View (Looks a bit like a Hovercraft!)

I didn’t get around to visiting it until a few weeks ago and I was very pleasantly surprised by it, well the inside anyway. It’s got 10 lanes of 50 metre length which is wonderful for a spot of exercise. There’s a diving pool too, not that I have any ambitions in that direction. Both the main pool and multi-purpose pool have moveable floors so their depths can be varied. This accommodates a range of activities from aqua aerobics to water polo, enabling swimmers of all abilities to use them.

Pool Area © City of Sunderland
The main pool also has a movable boom, which can be used to alter its length or sub-divide it, allowing more than one group of swimmers to use it at the same time. So you can have three different sections, school children having lessons, a free swimming area and lanes for the more serious swimmer.

Children's Activity Session © City of Sunderland

There isn't a children’s pool as this is not a leisure pool although they do put on fun sessions for youngsters, usually in school holidays.

However for me the best thing is the water quality, it’s fantastic. Some kind of bio filtering system so there’s hardly any nasty chemicals in the water.

To save time and travelling costs, I went back to our local pool in Washington last Friday morning and it was awful. It was packed with people of a certain age, like me, but the problem was they were swimming so slow I don’t know how they stayed afloat. Made me feel like Rebecca Adlington, well not really. Apart from the obvious fact she got two gold medals at the summer Olympics last year, I don't spend a fortune on Jimmy Choo shoes. Then there were the awful chemicals to contend with. Yuk!

So I made up my mind I was going to visit the Aquatic Centre more regularly and procrastination time was over. Yesterday I signed up for a swimming improver's class as they call it. Bargain of the day, it only cost £13.50 for 5 sessions! I do have a membership of the leisure club which is quite cheap if you’re over 60 and that made the classes very good value.

Well today was the day, I went for my first lesson. There were only 5 people there for the lesson and we had quite a laugh. The instructor was really nice and she taught me to put my face into the water. Success! I eventually kept it there for a few seconds. I also managed to swim a width of the pool with a float doing a crawl kick. Good grief I thought I would lose the use of my legs, it’s so hard to do compared to breast stroke kick. Must be really good exercise.

I’m really looking forward to next week and my second lesson. I’m feeling pleased with myself for getting off my bum and trying to improve my swimming. Hopefully by the time I go on holiday to Rhodes in May, I might be able to do a sort of crawl. Might being the operative word. Watch this space!


  1. Oh how glorious! I used to live in the swiming pool until I allowed my first husband to totally destroy my self esteem and I could not be seen in a swimsuit. Now I'm married to a man who would think it was fine for me to go swimming in a plastic sack if I wanted to, but there is not a single place nearby to swim. Yes, we do live on the lake but not near any decent swimming holes. Wow, you are in for such delight with this place you have. And congratulations on the face in the water thing.

  2. Well done you!
    Hi grannie Annie..I had a first hubby like that too: got a much better second lol.
    Well done for actually making that step and going through with it..inspirational..nearly makes me want to shave my legs and go myself

  3. Oh Winifred, I am so proud of you and happy for you. I think we all need a "bucket list". Jim and I have one which we keep adding to.

    I, myself, hate swimming. I dont' know why, but it takes a lot to get me in the water. A hot tub, yumm, but swimming, not so much.

    Have fun and good luck.

    ~hippo hugs~

  4. I loved hearing about the building and seeing the pictures AND the success you had at the lesson to put your face in the water. You may end up loving the underwater swim also. I love to swim also, but would feel very insecure at a public pool in a swim suit. I am not a great swimmer but I can swim some of the strokes. My favorite is the frog kick and crawl. I don't care for the flutter kick, not sure if that is the correct term. I would have loved to have had lessons or to have been really good at it. So you swim everyday? Or did I read that wrong....glad you are going on vacation in May. Have a great day!

  5. I'm not a pretty sight in a bather these days. However I find that most people in the pools are not exactly modelling material either so I don't feel too bad. To be honest I'm getting past caring the older I get.

    I'd love to swim everyday at the local pool but I don't have time. I do on holiday though, sometimes two or three times.

  6. Winifred,
    I love to swim too. But in the first place due to my back (slip-disk) problem as advice from the Doc. I took a lesson once and start swimming till now. Here, in Malaysia the perception of an elderly like me swimming publicly are bad. But who could care less if it is for my own benefit. Keep it up, and you are lucky to be able to have a beautiful pool around.

  7. Here in the pools I use most of the people are over 50, many are in their seventies. It's so cheap now once you retire to use the councils' leisure facilities as they want the elderly to stay fit and be less of a financial burden on the National Health Service. Not daft are they!

  8. Wow that's quite a place. I can't swim and in a bathing suit, well the rolls might keep me afloat although I'd still panic. One of these days I just might take up swimming lessons.

  9. I enjoy swimming too - I think it's the peace and quiet. That Aquatic Centre looks like quite the place!!

  10. Well I am real proud of you. Have fun and get fit at the same time.Your buns will thank you.

  11. That is a beautiful Aquatic Center. I am glad you are able to take advantage of the lessons they are offering. Water aerobics are a big thing in America. Unfortunately there is nothing in Down East Maine, close anyway! I would sign up in a flash if there were. If water aerobics are offered you should sign up. I know you would enjoy the no impact aspect of it.

  12. Hi Winifred,

    I love the water and I can swim, well, only the breast stroke, which was commonly taught to children in Europe, way back in the olden days. lol. But I am very insecure in the water, my feet must be able to touch bottom, or I panic! Thank goodness my three children, and grandchildren, are all good and fearless swimmers, and not fraidy cats like me.

    Your Auquatic Center is beautiful, and you're fortunate to be able to use and enjoy it.

    Have a great weekend!


  13. I enjoyed reading your post. I'm not much of a swimmer myself, but I have a son who swam many years as an AAU swimmer. He worked out twice a day for many years. The Aquatic Center at Sunderland is great and you are very lucky to have such a nice facility.

  14. You impress me with your fortitude. Good for you overcoming those fears.

  15. Good for you Winifred and you have given me something to think about. I learned to swim when I was about 45 but like you am not a very good swimmer and do not really like to have my face in the water. I may just call into our local pool to ask about improver lessons. Good luck with yours - I shall keep looking in to see how you are doing. A x

    PS - have had trouble getting onto your blog lately though all seems well today.

  16. Good for you Winifred! Your photos are awakening a long-buried loathing of pools from my childhood swimming-lesson days. I may have to write about that on Blasts From the Past.

    You're right about the "hovercraft". It sure is a futuristic looking building.


  17. Good for you Winifred! Way to go!
    That new pool sounds wonderful with those moving parts and all. Wow! 8-)

  18. Gday Winifrd,Good on you taking lessons and getting your face wet, As you know I have a pool, and it gets a lot of use in summer and I also enjoy going for a dip to cool off, but im not a swimmer I go in as deep as I can stand touching the bottom . The deep end is over 6ft deep.. all my family are good swimmers, ansd the small ones all have swimming lessons..

  19. Good for you, taking advantage of such a wonderful opportunity!

  20. Nice to read your post about the pool, I'm in Washington as well, and heading over today to get a Life card. I've been wanting to go in the pool since it was opened, but I'm a procrastinator too.


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