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Swimming: I guess I’m not the only one

I can’t swim. And I’m damn well ashamed of it. And I’ve long had myself convinced that no-one else shared my patheticness in this area.

But now I’m not so sure. This article seems one in eight people my age can’t swim twenty-five metres. More importantly, according to the article, two in three can’t swim 200 metres, the mininum distance to be considered able enough to get out of trouble. But for me it means that one in eight people are equally as useless — or worse — then me.

Okay, so the first sentence of this entry was a bit of a lie: I can swim about twelve metres. But that’s not "swimming" — I don’t feel like I’m swimming, it feels like I’m frantically trying to move myself through the water without drowning and, might I add, not doing a very good job of it.

But anyway, my point: I’m not alone. There are, as amazed as I am to find out, people apart from me that share my uselessness. Which is pathetic — in a country surrounded by water and where water is, or maybe was, synonymous with tradition and lifestyle, you’d think the swimming capability rate be around that of literacy. Apparently not.

The first reason that seems to be put forward is budget cuts. Schools are finding it increasingly difficult to maintain a pool, and therefore it gives way. But Hilton Brown says that "a third of [students who are offered swimming classes at school] don’t even get changed for one reason or another" (ref).

I’m not one to argue. When my class went to swim, it was about that — one third — that decided swimming wasn’t important and they wouldn’t take part. They were punished, we were told, by being forced to pay for the community pool visits themselves. Whether they were or not I don’t know, I obediently turned up prepared for all three, but I reckon that was too light a punishment.

Then again, perhaps it wasn’t. Could this be a sign of the changing times — no-one could argue they’re not changing — that swimming just isn’t important in this country anymore? Surely, in a country of islands, that can’t be true. Then again, a lot of people now are from countries that aren’t a group of islands.

Whatever the reason, the fact remains that we live in a place surrounded by water, and a place where the drowning rate is the third highest in the developed world. I remain ashamed of my inability, and have had it long on my mind to eliminate it. When I get time, that’s exactly what I will do. When I get time. Hmm. Perhaps I’m not as worried about it as I should be.

Related Links

  • New Zealand Herald: Water Safety
  • Water Safety New Zealand
  • NZ Herald: 100m swim defeats most students
  • NZ Herald: Pupils go private to get afloat
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    One Comment Post a comment
    1. augustus #

      I\’m with you. I can pedal 60+ miles, that\’s alot of kilometres, yet I can\’t swim to save my life. No pun intended. Peace. GUS

      5 October 2005

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