Earlier this evening my daughter and I went swimming. This is a regular Tuesday evening activity. We park the children with granddad for a little bit of grandfatherly bonding and go off and swim up and down the local pool. She usually does a lot more lengths than I do as she is a much more proficient swimmer than I am, faster, able to do a variety of strokes and so on. I just plod up and down doing a very pedestrian breast stoke, the only way I know how to swim.
Sometimes the pool is relatively empty but tonight it was just a little overcrowded and as I dodged out of the way of other swimmers I found myself inventing categories of swimmers in my head.
There are the sharks; these super fast, super selfish swimmers plough up and down the pool quite heedless of other pool users. This clearly THEIR pool and they ruthlessly drive others out of their path. You are in serious danger of being pulled into the undertow and possibly getting eaten into the bargain.
Then you have the blind cave fish; these are fairly docile slow swimmers but, like the sharks, they are oblivious to all other swimmers. They simply don’t seem to realise anyone else is there until they bump into them. You have to swim around them as they are unable to swim round you.
The octopus is an interesting phenomenon. This is made up of two, three or even four swimmers, usually female, who stop half way up the pool and get in a huddle to talk about some obviously important matter. They have a prodigious number of arms and legs threshing about and getting in everyone’s way.
Quite harmless are the limpets. They tend to swim to one end and then cling to that point for a while before swimming to the other end to cling on there for a while longer.
The dolphins are people like my daughter: proficient swimmers who go up and down the pool sensibly and considerately. If they splash you, you can guarantee they do it on purpose and usually playfully. My dolphin daughter, however, has been known to kick extra hard and create lots of splashy waves as she goes past octopi.
Sometimes there are whales. These are the large ladies who come to the pool for aqua-fit classes but arrive twenty minutes early and bask in the water until it is time for their class to begin. Clearly no-one has told them what a good idea it would be to do a few lengths of the pool before the class starts. We didn’t see any of them this evening. Maybe we left the pool too early.
So what about me? Well, when I run I think of myself as a bit of a tortoise: slow and steady but getting there in the end. I swim in a similar fashion; EVERYONE swims faster than I do. And that is no exaggeration. However, I can’t call myself a turtle as they swim very fast and dart about all over the place at great speed. So maybe I’m a bit of a clown fish, except that I think I flatter myself by suggesting I might be like any kind of fish.