Monday, August 17, 2009

Keeping Fit (3) - Swimming

Swimming proficiency certificate. Central New Brighton Primary School 1964.

It was earning the pink sticker titled "Water Skills" that was the most fun.
To gain this sticker you had to successfully complete two activities. The first was to swim the length of the school pool fully clothed.

The second was to dive into the pool, undress yourself and complete a floatation activity - After ridding yourself of your shirt etc, you took off your trousers and tied a tight knot in the end of each leg of your trousers. By holding the waist of the trousers open behind your head and bringing them to the front in a fast scooping action, the trousers would fill with air and provide some floatation for a short period of time if you held the waist of the trousers carefully just below the surface of the water. When the legs of the trousers had deflated the action was repeated.

I wish I had a photograph of my class of 35 children in the old school pool with trouser legs pointing to the sky like big fat sausages, but I don't - but never mind, I have another kind of vivid, Technicolour photo etched in my memory and its permanently wired to a big smile.

I remember that we had such fun doing this floatation activity but I also remember the great seriousness of it all - goodness knows when we would need to suddenly whip off our trousers to keep ourselves afloat somewhere, the examples came thick and fast in our minds.

I was convinced that when the aeroplane I was travelling on ditched in the Atlantic I would instruct all surviving passengers on how to do a good, good Kiwi down trou and save themselves. - Hmmmmmmm, maybe I would be awarded a medal by the Queen or even Knighted - "Arise Sir Alden, your quick and clever action in advising, nay! pulling down even, the pants of so many passengers saved lives, a grateful nation salutes you".
My picture would be on the cover of Time Magazine and The New Zealand Women's Weekly and I would alter the Smith family crest to include a pair of trousers rampant over a scudding sea.

These days I mix swimming with my other fitness activities. I swim about 20 lengths of the pool which takes me about 40 minutes to an hour. I like swimming mainly because it is low impact exercise and easy on the joints. Also because it involves arms and legs, it is a whole body workout.

To date I have not had to use my youthful skills, but if the occasion arises I will be ready. I am like a coiled spring ready for action. I practise simple knots on a daily basis, and I always wear trousers everywhere - just in case.


Janice said...

Alden, would that work with stovepipes, do you think?

Alden Smith said...

It would work if you could actually get them off. I think all stovepipe jeans should come with a health warning stating that they are not easily removed if required to be used as a temporary lifejacket. :-)

Dan Gurney said...

What fun! We never got to do anything like this in our formal swimming lessons, but later on when no adults were around to supervise us, we did go skinny dipping. I wasn't aware then of the dangers of swimming without clothes that might serve as life jackets if needed. Now I know.

Alden Smith said...

I never did skinny dipping as a child but I did do gleeful skinny running through the lupins with my friend John Ryan. Its not something I would recommend actually and I had a big problem explaining to my mother at bathtime exactly why I had scratches all over my body.

teach5 said...

We had to do this "make a flotation device out of your trousers activity when I was a Boy Scout. I remember the whole floating without any devices, I couldn't do it, not enough body fat. Everytime I would exhale, I would sink.

So, aren't you missing teaching yet? sounds to me like you are having WAY too much fun.....

Alden Smith said...

Hi teach5, it is a difficult activity and I remember sinking myself, especially when I was trying to get my trousers off.

I have been retired for a few months now and I have to say that after 35 years of teaching without any real long break I am not missing it at all. I think the key is to actively build a new life for yourself and remember that the glass is always half full.