swim2After I have completed my exercise circuit at gym I go to a certain place to cool down.
I do my body relaxation and stretches looking out over the swimming pool. A lot of older people are there doing water aerobics. The class is led by this incredibly fit young woman who demonstrates from the side everything she wants her class to do. I always get friendly grins, smiles and even the odd wave that brightens up this exhausted, unfit body of mine.

One day, I was just getting changed after a steam bath when I looked up into the dancing eyes of Annetjie, the water aerobics instructor.
“So many mornings I see you working out on the machines and I wonder why I never see you in the pool, doing my class?”
“Well, I do swim but….”
Her face was serious now. “Doing exercise in the water would be incredibly good for you. The water gives you support where the various parts of your body are failing you.”
“I know that but…” I faltered, “I’m deaf and I wouldn’t be able to wear my Cochlear Implants in the water. So I wouldn’t hear your instructions.”
“Gaynor, I would speak clearly and I know that your lip reading is fantastic. I will see you on Monday at 8.”
“Monday at eight!” I echoed.
I really didn’t have an option!
Right, I was going to swimming class on Monday. The age old question reared it’s ugly head:
What to wear?
I’m serious. I didn’t own a decent swimming costume. I have a huge complex about my body. I have massive cellulite thighs and worst of all, I have ankles the size of my thighs! A full length wet suit would do the trick, I thought dourly.

Much to my amazement, I discovered a bathing costume that covered a multitude of blemishes. It was much nicer than the traditional boring one piece. Aquamarine shorts and a lovely pink, turquoise, and navy blue striped bikini top. When doing my class, just the top would be visible and my boobs are still reasonably pert. I would look fairly attractive to the eye, I thought.

swim 1The water closed around me, I swam two strokes underwater and surfaced. My costume bottoms were not behaving as they should. They floated up and formed a blouson around my waist. Oh, glory, nothing I could do about that now. I ‘ballooned’ my way to a place where I could see Annetjie clearly, greeting familiar faces on the way.

Surreptitiously I glanced at my classmates. I was the youngest by about at least ten years. One thing was for sure, in spite of my disability, I was far stronger than any of them. As far as keeping up, this class wouldn’t prove a problem. I smiled and threw myself into a back flip. Hmmnn, I didn’t do those as well as I used to. Then Annetjie strode to the side of the pool. She saw me, grinned and gave me a thumbs up. I returned the gesture and….we were off!

swim 3We did four steps forward and four steps back. We balanced on one leg and did a kicking motion with the other. We then repeated on the other side. We ran with our knees coming upwards. We ran kicking our legs behind us. I discovered that it wasn’t as easy as I had thought. With my right side not working as it should, it was actually a shock at how difficult it was. We had to jump up in the water and make a star. This stupid body of mine found that incredibly difficult. Finally I left where I was standing in the middle and moved to the front of the pool where there was a hand rail. Grasping this rail, I had the stability I needed. It was so much easier. And then I began to enjoy myself, keeping my eye on Annetjie all the time.
“Now I want you all to turn and march up the pool, lifting your knees up high.”
We all turned and set off up the pool. Annetjie was no longer visible. I marched vigorously lifting my knees high. Annetjie shouted at everyone to turn and march in the opposite direction. Naturally I didn’t hear her and chaos erupted! Fifteen people marching vigorously into you is not a pretty sight. I saw the funny side of this and my laughter turned into coughing as I seemed to swallow half the pool. “Hey, this is meant to be good for me. Here I am being mown down by 15 kicking women!”
“Sorry, my fault, I forgot!” laughed Annetjie.
I was totally exhausted by the end of class. The rest of the ladies didn’t seem fatigued in the least. I moved very slowly up the steps when getting out the pool causing a major traffic jam. I must remember to always get out last and make way for my incredibly fit classmates!

I learnt a lot during that lesson. Never pre-judge. My classmates may be much older than I but they are fit and handle their bodies beautifully in the water. Certainly better than this much younger woman with the thick ankles and a pert bust!!!

I must also get a new, sensible non-billowing costume!