Have you ever splashed in an open fire hydrant? I have. I didn’t know anyone who had their own pool, so swimming wasn’t a big part of my life. We cooled off in sprinklers in city playgrounds or in open hydrants when we were lucky enough to find one.
My father didn’t know how to swim or ride a bike. My mother said she knew how to do both, but had never been seen on a bicycle nor in water higher than her knees. I learned to ride a bike at around eight and didn’t swim until I was ten.
It wasn’t part of the family culture to take risks, and as anti-authoritarian as I was in other ways, I guess I internalized this message before I realized it existed.
Or maybe it was just my nature to be reticent.
I think one way to divide people up is by watching them enter a cold swimming pool: there are those that dive right in and get over the shock in an instant, and there are those who ease in inch by inch, waiting for each body part to grow accustomed to the temperature before submitting another to the bracing water.
I still get in cold pools at a sloth’s pace.
And I still wish I were one of the divers.