The Swimming Fool

There’s something about going to the local swimming pool that makes me want to slap my own face. 

When you think of holidays abroad to Spain, Italy, Greece, Cyprus, etc. chances are you’ll remember the pool. And chances are it’ll just be a rectangular one without all the fluff of jets, flumes and jacuzzi bubbles too. Maybe there’s a diving board. 

Anyway, by the time you’ve got in, chucked around a ball with the kids and lolloped around on an inflatable for half an hour, you’ve had a decent time, the kids have had the time of their lives, and your other half – fully kitted out with a magazine and bucket of Prosecco/Stella/Yazoo (mark off as appropriate) – isn’t exactly mucking out the pigs either. 

Everyone wins. 

And this is where going to the local swimming pool doesn’t always align with me. 

Take Saturday. Now, I admit what follows isn’t all the swimming pool’s fault, but by being the focussed activity of our morning, I’m quite happy to lay the blame at its door like a flaming turd-filled envelope. 

To start, the session was 9am to 10.15am… and we arrived at 9.50am. Ok, that was completely our fault. But I then had to make a choice. Either give the kids just twenty-five minutes of freestyle splash time or sell them the dream of the 10.15am over 60s Aqua Aerobics session. 

My sales pitch didn’t land. We had twenty-five minutes. 

Next, there were the lockers. 

Two for the four of us. That should be fine, right? Wrong. 

I’m pretty sure the lockers we picked were some comedy open-backed ones, where every time I pushed our stuff in, a panel at the back of the locker was slid aside and some japester hiding behind it pushed it all back out. 

And to top it off, after much heaving and wheezing and getting  the door finally closed, I dropped the pound in, locked up and then noticed the clasp on the locker’s wristband was broken. Arrrggghhh!!!

With no pockets in my swim shorts, I was faced with another choice – swap lockers or just drop the key into the mesh inside my shorts? Given we’d already messed around for five of the twenty-five minutes, I considered the latter. But then thought perhaps plunging my hand down my shorts and rummaging around to find the key after the session might appear a little unsavoury in a family friendly swimming session. So, a new locker it was then. 

But finally, we got to the swim and admittedly that was the best part. The kids stayed close as asked and had a good time. They bobbed in the bubbles, jumped in a couple of times and played in front of the jets. They chose not to go on the flume but other than that, it was the usual jazz.

“Do we have to get out soon?” My youngest asked. 

“Soon.” I said. “But I have an idea…”

But it turns out my idea was crap. 

With a minute or so to go, we implemented my master plan by moving away to furthest part of the pool so it’d take longer to get out. In truth, all it did was buy us an extra minute and put us in a huge sodding changing room queue, one long enough for all future verrucas to map out the soles of our feet, send out invites to all their verrucary friends and bestow them with the time to decide where to set up camp.

That’s the problem with taking the kids swimming to the local swimming pool. And it essentially begins and ends with changing rooms. There must be a way they can make them better?

Think of how simple it is on holiday. Generally, there are no session times to fall out with your kids over. Locker face-offs are rare. There’s no need for a changing room as you’re dry as soon as you leave the pool. And if you’ve ended up with a villa of your own, you’re pretty much guaranteed your towel, keys, Kindle and phone will be in exactly the same place as when you left them. It’s world’s apart.

But I guess it would be. It can cost hundreds or thousands to jet off to some Sun-drenched part of the world to stay in a place with a pool, as opposed to about £15 to wander down to the local leisure centre for a family swim. 

So if you do opt for the local leisure centre, try not to fret about your lack of tan or the changing room shenanigans. If nothing else, you’ll have saved plenty of money to go towards verruca treatments.

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