Monday, December 8, 2008

Scary Singapore Swimming Saga

It's well documented around here that swimming isn't exactly high up on my list of strong points. It would probably scrape in somewhere in the high hundreds, near "sorting out the political situation in Sri Lanka" and a bit higher than "singing". I only learned to swim about three years ago but I'm full of optimism and hope for my prospects. Give me a pool and I'm fairly happy to splash about in it and practice my strokes, of which I have two.

It's a bit of a mystery to me how you lot swim so effortlessly. I watch my kids, both of whom are excellent at it, and I know that there's a dramatic difference between a good swimmer and one such as I. In fact, being honest, there's a dramatic difference between a crap swimmer and me. I yearn to be crap at swimming, it's a target for me.

There I was in Singapore last week, with a rather posh and flashy pool on the seventh floor of the building I was in. I've been up to the area before, checked it out and thought that it would be a superb practice ground for me, or practice water. At forty two I admit that it's a bit embarrassing to swim in a more public pool and get overtaken by little kids having their first ever swimming lesson. I imagine these kids going back to their mother and telling them about the man who's splashing about with the elegance of a chinaman in a bull shop.

So, a quiet pool with no one in it is just what I need. In Sri Lanka I can often get one with just a few people in it, which is good. In England I'm lucky to get one that's got less people in it than Majestic City has.

One day, whilst in Sing, I decided that a swim was in order. I caught the lift up to the seventh floor, despite the fact that they get their numbering wrong over there and it's actually the sixth floor. I exited the lift and walked to the pool. All was good. It's a long thin pool, called a lap pool I understand. There was no one around. Perfect, I thought quietly to myself. I could have thought it loudly to myself because I was the only sign of life, I could even have shouted it from the rooftop, quite literally, but I didn't. Shouting from a rooftop, in Singapore carries the death penalty.

Instead I scarpered back down to the apartment and grabbed my trunks, goggles and book and steamed it back to the pool. I got out of the lift, walked to the pool and spotted some breasts. It's a rare occasion when I'm disappointed to see some breasts and this was one of them. They were attached to a woman and she was sunbathing by the side of the pool. I had to proceed, for fear of letting down all men and looking stupid, but it meant that there would be only three people there; me, the double breasted woman and the pool.

I was angry with her. In the short time it had taken me to put on my trunks and get back there she had turned up, got into posish and was acting as if she had every right to do so. These people are just cruel sometimes.

I took a lounger and metaphorically peed on my territory. There may have been a little bit of real pee too, nerves I guess, these things happen and the important thing is not to tell anyone. Bitch remained in her lounger, pretending to ignore me. I retaliated by pretending to stare at her breasts for a while. Then I strolled towards the water with the air of confidence of Murali stepping up to bowl. Inside though, I felt as confident as the batsman playing for his country for the first time and facing the grinning fellow.

I stepped into the water, unsure of the depth. It came up to my waist, which was a good result. I did a few yards of breast stroke, then stopped as if I was just warming up, not because I'd reached my limit. If the woman wasn't there I would have felt free to experiment with my strokes, which sounds like a euphemism but is actually exactly what I mean. I desperately want to get to that state in which you normal people glide around the average swimming pool with the grace of a, well, a normal person swimming.

It's a good thing for me to be faced with a pool that didn't really have a deep end, as this one was. In fact it probably still is. It means that I can swim until I get that drowning sensation, then casually put my feet down and pretend I've spotted something interesting to look at or that I'm adjusting my goggles or willy or even both. So, after about three quarters of a length this is exactly what I did, though I struggle to recollect exactly what I adjusted. My vague suspicion is that it was the goggles, as willy adjustment, in Singapore with only one semi naked woman in the immediate surroundings, can only end in disaster. Or the death sentence.

After the rest I continued on my way towards the end of the pool. I know how people like Columbus must have felt when they heard some lowly crew member shout "land ahoy". For me, seeing the end of a swimming pool and knowing that I might just be able to swim to it is very similar. Neil Armstrong, Christopher Columbus and RD, we're men of adventure and discovery.

Then it happened. A few feet before the end I looked down and saw it. At first I just blinked and felt a little bit queasy. Then I felt more queasy and thought that perhaps I was going to die. Silly really, as we're all going to die, but you know how it is.

At this point it might help you to have a good look at the photograph above. You see that blueish bit at what looks like the top of the building? Well that's the last few feet of the swimming pool, jutting out over the street and seven, or six depending on your nationality, floors up. The floor's made of glass, probably with a little bit of drummer poo now also.

In my defence I have to say that I'm good with heights, not a mountain climber or anything but I tend to enjoy a nice high view with just that little bit of fear that is probably quite normal. Stick me on a ten storey building and I'll usually savour the vista far more than be scared of it.

This was different. I think it was the sensation of floating in water that did it. One second I was doing the breast stroke and looking down at concrete or cheese, or whatever they make swimming pools out of. The next second there were tiny little cars and Singaporeans there and it felt as if I was hovering, that to put my feet down would have made me plummet to the ground. I'm not ashamed to tell you that it scared me shitless.

Yet it was fascinating too, in the same way most people rubberneck a bad accident. I spent some seconds there but never planted my feet down. A chap, even a brave one like me, has limits.

Then, while the annoying woman carried on pretending to blank me, I almost did another length. She was lounging at the other end of the pool and I was forced to swim there as that's where the ladder was and I was sure I needed it to get out of the thing. Dragging myself out of the water just by holding on to the edge and using all my upper body strength was never a viable option.

I clambered out, sat, or lounged on my lounger and tried to look cool, calm and collected. I opened my book and flicked casually through a few pages but it was no use. I couldn't actually see the words and print. Someone had replaced them with images of tiny little cars and people, as if seen from seven storeys high, though some would say six storeys high.

Over on the other side of the pool the woman carried on ignoring me.


T said...

omg thats got to be one of the coolest things ive ever heard of!

a pool with a glass bottom with a view of a street i mean, not you and the breasts and that whole saga, RD, though im sure the latter bit of that sentence has the potential of being interesting.

ViceUnVersa said...

Wow, heart stopping material and nice pix!



Rhythmic Diaspora said...

T - Definitely very cool. You mean you didn't the post interesting eh?

DD - Thanks and good morning to you too. Hope the school run is not too icy out there in the sticks!

Sachintha said...

"Then I strolled towards the water with the air of confidence of Murali stepping up to bowl. Inside though, I felt as confident as the batsman playing for his country for the first time and facing the grinning fellow."

OMG you cracks me up man!
Your humor is fucking A priceless...


T said...

no no it was interesting, all that classic RD humor, but omg i cant wrap my brain around how cool it would be to swim laps in a pool with a glass bottom!! was it like being suspended in air??

Rhythmic Diaspora said...

Sachintha - What can I say other than thank you?

T - Ok, glad we've got that sorted now! It wasn't the whole pool, just the end of it that's got the glass bottom. Yes, it was like floating in the air, which is what scared me so much.

Indyana said...

A pool with a glass bottom looking down at the streets! Now I'll have to apologise to fellow HK-ers for breaking with the tradition of looking down our nose at Singapore,and agree that that sounds cool!Even for Singapore, I might sneeringly add! On the side RD ,I quite like Singa, but just don't mention it anywhere!

Confab said...

well, at first i thought it was uber cool.

then i realised, if u made a pit stop over the glass bit, those lil singaporeans on the street, had they been looking up would've had quite a view of the RD jewels in them trunks...

Rhythmic Diaspora said...

Confab - they would need a seriously powerful telescope!

Confab said...

that could actually be interpreted in two ways. i'll give u the benefit of the doubt mate. haha!

A Virile Nagalingam said...

"chinaman in a bullshop" egads, I had images of Rangana Herath sending a flighted delivery down an Angus steer's throat while Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall played the auctioneer. Side-splitter, in American.