Big Sister is going to tell me everything that swimming lessons are about. I have missed the first lesson because I was ill and heard some disturbing stories of my class mates. Big Sister tells about crossing the pool under water and she has seemed to have played hide and seek under water. It’s not making me any feel better. Crossing the pool under water… Never knew she had gills. I don’t have any idea what this pool should look like. We never went to a pool before, too expensive for my parents in my first seven years.
We go from school to the pool by bus. I sit next to the same person I sit with in the classroom.
It’s not very far to the pool. The building doesn’t give me associations with water at all. But inside every wall is covered with tiles, it reminds me of the butcher’s. We change into trunks on long benches and hang our stuff in the same hall. Then we go to the pool hall where the swim instructor already waits for us. He’s dressed completely in white clothes, with white gym shoes. Even his hair is white and crew cut. His red face is the only dissonant. He bellows some words and my class mates already know what to do. They stand in line, from small to tall. I understand I have to stand on the end of the line, being the smallest.
Things went to slow according to the man in white and he shouts some more things to us. I’m becoming cold, goosebumps all over my body and I need to go to the toilet. I put my finger in the air and ask permission. He bellows to me that I have to be very quick, otherwise he will get me. They all will wait for me. Even with all the echoing in this hall I do understand this. So I run to the toilet and try to get rid of what’s bothering me. But like always: when I want to do it quick, it won’t come. I try to relax and then it comes. My stomach aches, I shake all over and I have diarrhoea.
Before I’m done there’s banging on the door. It’s the instructor demanding me to come out immediately. I moan that I’m not ready yet and reach for the toilet paper. I don’t understand how but the man in white has opened the door and holds my arm in a fierce grip. He flushes and while I pull up my trunks he drags me back to my class mates. He seems not to notice that I’m very smelly and gets me in line again.
The boy next to me pinches his nose. The rest of the boys start to laugh. The man’s face turns even more red and he starts shouting at him from very close range. I see his spit hitting the boy and he starts to cry. The instructor seems happy with this and steps back again.
He starts to instruct us. I don’t understand any of his words, only thing I can make of it is “How, how, how”. One thing is clear, my group is called “the Floaters”.
We have to stand in line in the water that is knee deep. We are ordered to lay down flat faced and float. I obey with the rest of the group, keep my breath and get up when I need some air. I haven’t moved an inch while the rest is some yards away from me. The man in white shouts at me that I have to get back in the water. I see my own shit in the water and feel disgusted with it. But I’m afraid for this red faced man and obey again.
When I stand up again, I have moved maybe two inches. My classmates are halfway the pool. The man has a big pole with a hook in his hand. I go in again. When I need to get up, I can’t. I feel the hook in the back of my neck. He’s going to drown me! I really panic now. I struggle from under the hook and get up anyway. When I look at him with my eyes full of tears he looks at me in disbelief.
He goes over to the rest after ordering me to go on. The rest of the lesson I lay down in the water and get up in a minute after that.
When we go back in the bus nobody wants to sit next to me.