Pinch Me

I need to pinch myself. I’m watching Lu at her first session of swim club, from a bench on the promenade. We saw the swim club yesterday, but now Lu’s in the water, it doesn’t seem real somehow. I’m having a slight out of body experience watching her. This is going to be one of those moments in the future to wonder: did that really happen?

She is swimming in a sea pool, buoyed off by floats. About twenty local kids from Bonaire of different ages and abilities are doing the breaststroke down one length, finishing at the tree on the prom. Then the backstroke back.

Whoa… she’s doing the butterfly now. I haven’t seen Lu do the butterfly since she was ten years old. We spent a lot of our time at the leisure centre – as Lulu went through the swim stages. She started at about four years old and got to the end of stage 10 when she was ten. Then she was invited to join the swim club, and we left Wales. She hasn’t swum competitively since.

I can easily make her out. She has a nice stroke for front crawl, which she gets from her dad. Mine is terrible. No matter how I try, I just can’t help scooping the water with my hands. Her butterfly isn’t half bad either, though you can tell it’s been a long time. At the end of the length, she’s struggling to keep this hard stroke up. I’m not judging. I wouldn’t even know where to start.

The kids are a mix of ages and abilities. There are two swimming instructors shouting instructions from the promenade. One instructor is concentrating on the younger kids and the other is working with Lulu’s group.

I can hear them giving a mix of Dutch and English instruction. And Lulu is being partnered with two other girls – two tall Dutch girls, who seem to be helping her. Lu keeps taking her goggles off as they talk to her, her old, tiny little pool goggles. She has bigger ones that Jack bought before we left, proper sea swimming goggles, but she guffawed at them. Something tells me she’ll need them for the next session – the way she keeps wiping her eyes.

The next session is Saturday for water polo. Already a parent has asked Lu if she could join the water polo team. They need more girls her age, he said. We both looked back at him, dumbfounded. Don’t you realise that we haven’t done anything in a structured group (besides online school) for almost a year?

He nodded. ‘Great. See you Saturday.’ I have to give it to the Dutch. They seem a pragmatic lot. 

Ahh, it’s getting to the end of the class. The instructors have lined them all up into rough-looking groups. After some talk, they have rung their whistles. ‘Group 1: go!’

Pinch pinch pinch. My leg is going red. I’m still pinching it.

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