|Front to back: George, Me, Chris, Jerry, Dad and Blair.|
Look closely. Can you pick out the intrepid swimmer?
I had never taken swimming lessons.
We simply lived too far from the city for it to be a priority. Or even possible.
But I loved to swim.
And, with the river in such close proximity, did it a lot.
In the summer.
In winter, for obvious reasons, we were pretty much shut out.
Then, someone of great intelligence came up with a fantastic idea.
Why not hire a schoolbus and cart a load of kids to Lethbridge once a week?
It was genius!
Why hadn't anyone thought of it before?
Now I could take lessons and my parents would only be responsible for getting me to and from Milk River.
Okay, it still meant a twenty-mile hike into town to drop me off and another twenty miles to pick me up, but why haggle over details?
I was going!
The bus ride was a treat. I wasn't confined to my usual fourth row back.
I was suddenly riding with a different group of kids than I ever saw from said fourth row back.
And Kathy had a portable record-player, which she kept going the entire 50 miles.
I can't tell you how many times we heard 'Wipe-Out', but it was . . . umm . . . a few.
The bus deposited us safely in front of the Civic Center.
I should mention here that I've often wondered about bus drivers. What they do in their off hours, when they aren't very closely closeted with a rowdy group of young people.
Can't you just picture a group of them sitting around with shaking heads and “Let me tell you . . .!” stories?It's a wonder that more of them don't drink.
But I digress . . .
We scrambled madly for the door and the change rooms, then poured out into the main pool room.
We were ready.
The teachers began to sort us into groups, using a list of highly-specialized criteria.
How old are you? Are you afraid of the water? Have you ever taken swimming lessons before? What colour is your swimsuit?
Do you like boys?
Finally they had us, more or less, categorized.
I had never taken swimming lessons, so I was inserted into the beginners class.
“Okay, kids. See if you can put your face into the water.”
Woohoo! Compliance! I took off like a seal.
“Okay. You! Little girl in the blue swimsuit!” Sigh. “Would someone please fish her out?”
Have I mentioned that I like water?
“Are you sure you've never had lessons?”
“Well, I'm moving you up to the next level.”
And so it went.
By the time we were finished our one-hour lesson, I had been . . . promoted . . . seven times.
It must have been some sort of record, to go from the beginner level to the 'Junior Lifeguard' level.
In one lesson.
Who could have known that all my flailing and thrashing around like a demented fish had actually been getting me somewhere.
Or that, in the still water of a pool, with no current to fight, I could actually make headway.
Really fast headway.
Jerry (the only member of my family who could fight the river's current and win), eat your heart out.
Because miracles do happen.
I was suddenly the soggy and triumphant queen of my little, watery world.
It didn't happen often.
But it was a very good feeling.