I have always loved the water. When we were little my mom and dad used to take us swimming in the rivers around North Wales. My parents were fearless when it came to water. My mom was an elegant swimmer. My dad was just like us. A strong energetic swimmer forever racing, doing handstands, splashing around. One year he even dammed the Conway river which ran across the bottom fields of the farm we stayed on, which turned our stretch of the river into a deep pool with a smooth long rock acting like a slide into the cool water. It was like something out of an Enid Blyton book. We loved it.
When I was 11 I started synchronised swimming. I had been swimming competitively as part of a swimming club with my sister since we were very little, but I just didn’t really enjoy it that much. I was never that competitive as a child. I got into synchro just by chance but ended up swimming for the county and winning medals and competitions until I decided to concentrate on my music and dancing when I got to 13 years old. I always look back at those days with great pride and a sense of real happiness. It was an amazing time for me in my childhood.
My love of the water does much deeper than the pool. I am an Aquarius, and so is my husband and he feels the same way. Luckily that’s good for us both, as we have been diving together for years, Water makes me feel like ourselves again. I feel more control in my scuba gear deep down on to a coral than I do in any other area of my life. Especially where I find myself today.
When I feel ill, climbing into a warm bath feels so much more than an opportunity to get clean. When I suffered more heavily with migraines in my twenties, getting into a bath gave me more comfort than any painkiller ever did. I would wake after eventually falling asleep in such fierce burning pain, laid back in the cooled water, with a fuzzy but calm head ready to get into bed for a deeper sleep, tucked up.
At the moment, we don’t have a bath… this has been okay for the last 12 months in our new house, but it is beginning to become a problem. I sit at the bottom of the shower letting the water run over me, dreaming of my old oversized roll top bath, full to the top with steamy water and bubbles. Having a shower is great don’t get me wrong. I love the feeling of being suddenly being drenched, washing the day off into the plughole, but a bath would be a more than welcome addition.
The real power of water in my life now is my swimming. I have always gone swimming through my adult life, but when I started IVF last year I decided I would go swimming more. We found an amazing local pool, and I started swimming almost every day. It’s a deep pool, with gradual steps down into it. When you get in, you almost feel like you are being carried away … I continued through into my early pregnancy. Swimming was always a safe place for me. I felt content, supported and relaxed every time I got into the water.
When I miscarried, it was hard for me to keep going. I had a break of about 5 weeks in total. The first days I managed to get myself into the pool, it was hard. I only lasted about ten minutes. I couldn’t let myself feel the pleasure of being there. It seemed also to me that the pool, which had previously been an adult only environment, was now regularly frequented by new moms and their babies. I swam through my tears on many mornings as moms and their young ones splashed around me.
As I swam, I got stronger. Or as I got stronger, I swam. I kept going, facing the fear that there may have been children in the pool, or I would be too weak to put in a good performance. Even if I went and only stayed in the water for 10 minutes, had a steam and then got clean and dry I counted it as a win.
As time has gone on two things have happened. My swimming has got much stronger. I can feel the strength of my body in the water, I can do a length in less strokes now than I could when I started. I like feeling that strength. It reminds me that I am a strong person and that I am mentally getting strong too. I am overcoming the grief and after-effects of miscarrying once again. When this time I had been so sure I wouldn’t ever feel any better. I find that sometimes I end up almost meditating whilst I am swimming. I watch the water move in front of my hands, the light reflecting in the water, and after a while, look up at the clock, 20 minutes having passed by. At the end of each swim I do handstands… it helps to gently strengthen my core…. And it’s fun!
The second thing that has happened is amazing to me and brings me such joy. My 10-month old niece comes swimming with us. And better than that, she loves the water. She is totally fearless just like us. When she gets water in her face she just flicks it away. She squeals and shouts, and watches me blowing bubbles in the water in awe. Having her in the pool with my sister, mom and our husbands, has taken me back to the seventies’ childhood and the love we all had for swimming together. It has made it easier for me to be in the water with other children and their parents. It has brought another dimension to swimming that one day I will have with my children, my sister and niece.