Nicola Vincent-Abnett

Nicola Vincent-Abnett
"Savant" for Solaris, Wild's End, Further Associates of Sherlock Holms, more Wild's End

Friday 21 September 2012

Sink or Swim

We all do things we’re scared of; that’s what makes us brave.

When I was a young woman, I made a point of doing things that frightened me, but, as I got older, I allowed myself to stop. I allowed myself  to grow into the sort of person who is content to avoid fear and conflict and the discomfort of dealing with... well... discomfort in most of its myriad forms.

Time passed: quite a lot of time, probably a decade or two.

Then stuff happened, as stuff does. Life changed, as it is wont to do. I was thrown, by circumstances into a whole new way of thinking, into a whole new way of dealing with my life and the people in it.

This is a good thing.

It is time to be brave again. It is time to take risks. It is time to roll the dice.

One small part... One very small part of making the changes in my life came in the form of a decision to learn to swim. I know... daft, isn’t it? I can’t swim. I attended a primary school that had its own pool and a secondary school that had its own pool, and swimming lessons were mandatory at both of those establishments, and yet I never learned to propel my body through water.

I like to stand on a beach and look out at the ocean. In fact, sometimes, the husband drives me to the coast with the sole purpose of doing that very thing. I was born only a few hundred yards from the North Sea, and I love it, but I struggle to get into any body of water bigger than the average bath tub, and, honestly, some days I have to get out of the bath because it makes me nervous. I can literally hyperventilate sitting chest deep in a bath of warm water.

First of all I talked about learning to swim, and then I went to the on-line shop and bought swimsuits, two of them so that I couldn’t make the excuse that my suit was in the wash. Then I sent them back to be exchanged because they didn’t fit. Then I went on-line again and got the address of my nearest pool. Then the husband took me to look at the pool where I got the number of the organisation that takes care of the lessons. The slip of paper with the number on it sat on my desk for several days... OK, a week... or two... while I plucked up the courage to ring it.

Finally, first thing on Wednesday, when the husband could stand it no longer, but with my permission, obviously, he rang the number for me. He got through to an operator, who promised that an instructor would ring back.

Nobody rang.

OK... somebody just rang.

I enjoy a coincidence as much as anyone does, but I was going to write a snarky blog about how I’d being bracing myself for weeks and weeks to book a swimming lesson and when it came to the crunch I was let down... Only I wasn’t...

I just spent ten minutes on the phone with a lovely woman and booked my first two swimming lessons.

My hands are shaking slightly.

I’ve got to meet Linda, my swimming instructor, poolside one Tuesday in October; we’ll be in our swimsuits, so there won’t be an opportunity to wear a green gardenia or to carry the Racing Post, but I’m guessing she won’t need me to advertise who I am; I’m guessing the body language and the expression on my face will tell her exactly who her next client is.

Poor woman. Do wish her luck. 


  1. awesome! I've never been a confident swimmer and it's bothered me. I also don't really have the money to get away with going regularly to get lessons.

    but then one of my best mates works at a pool so the excuses are crumbling like a cadbury flake. inspired by your courage I will get my ass back in the pool come November, and now I've said it I have one less hurdle :D!

    1. Oh Lordy, now I feel responsible. Smiles. I will try to remember to post regular progress reports, so make sure you let me know how you get on.

  2. I should really go swimming. Claire and I have talked about it for years, but now that we have moved and I will (in theory) have comparatively boundless amounts of free time, its porbably the time to find our nearest pool and actually do it.

    Your blogs see? They're magic. See you Sunday :)

  3. Woo! I love swimming, my mum used to take me every couple of weeks to the local Hilton where she was a member... It's a great feeling, being in the water and knowing that you could float, or dive and swim around. It's just a lot freer, like gravity doesn't exist anymore. Hope you conquer your fears Nik, I'm sure you'll start to enjoy it :)

    Plus. Hot-tubs. They're cool. And while you don't swim in them they are full of water :P