Friday, February 11, 2005

1963 Swimming in Granville Road Baths

We Dive At Dawn

Swimming was one of the few occasions during the week when we got out of the school, the playground at Kilburn Park felt a bit like Colditz, surrounded by tall grey walls and with high mesh fences backing onto tall surrounding houses and yards. The swimming pool at Granville Road Baths was not very far from the school so, once a week at morning break, a teacher led us there and we walked in pairs with our towels and costumes under our arms. Kids who were good swimmers would get changed quickly and race off to the diving boards and jump off them before the swimming teacher lined us up for the lesson.
“I’m going to jump the high board today,” I told Ronnie as we walked into the changing rooms.
“You say that every week – you never do.”
“I will, I’ll go up there and jump off the top.”
“How much do you want to bet you don’t?”
“I don’t want to bet.”
“You won’t jump.”
Usually Ronnie was right – I wasn’t brave enough to jump the high board; it was a very high board indeed! I wasn’t brave enough until the day Ronnie had enough of my boasting and told Jane and Anne what I’d said and then I just had to jump to impress them. I climbed the four sets of ladders and got to the top board and peered down, it looked very high from up there and the swimming pool looked very small, I couldn’t go back, by then all the girls were watching, I stood there frozen then someone screamed at me from behind that I was holding them up so, without much more thought, I jumped. It was a horrible feeling as gravity took hold and pulled me down fast. I slammed into the water with a massive booming splash and sunk right to the bottom; 10 feet under water my feet touched the tiles lightly and then I floated up to the surface in a torrent of bubbles, seemingly coming from my swimming trunks. I’d done it! I joined the ranks of the high board jumpers!
“I’m going to dive off the high board, next time”, I told Ronnie as we walked back to school.
“You won’t dive,” he told me confidently.

It took me several more months to psyche myself up to dive off the top board, but when I eventually did, and it was one of the most frightening things I’d ever done, my forehead hit the water as though I’d hit a brick wall, I slammed into the water like a rocket, sank to the bottom like a stone, chipped my tooth on a tile and came up to the surface with my swimming trunks around my ankles! I thrashed about trying to pull my trunks up and tread water at the same time as Ronnie pointed out to the girls that I was showing my bottom.

1 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

YOU WERE LUCKY TO HAVE GONE THERE DURING THE WEEK AND WITH TEACHERS, BECAUSE AT WEEKENDS IT WAS FULL OF WHAT WE KNOW NOW AS PEDO`S ONE OF THEM A CELEBRITY OF THE DAY, NOT THAT I KNEW THAT THEN AT THE AGE OF 11. THEY WERE PREYING ON YOUNG BOYS, I KNOW I WAS ONE OF THEM. I GLAD YOU GOT FOND MEMORIES OF THE PLACE. ALL IT DID FOR ME WAS BRING ME HEARTACHE AND BAD MEMOMORIES.

8 December 2012 at 17:07  

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