My Plunge Pledge

The Walk to the Pool

The Walk to the Pool

There are ducks in the water and sparrows in the changing rooms.

Duck Duck Pool

Duck Duck Pool

I’ve made a Plunge Pledge with myself to swim every Friday. Whatever the weather! We need people to swim regularly and often to convince Council that it’s worth keeping the pool open. Of course it is, it’s a National Treasure!

This is my first Friday. The weather forecast is for thunderstorms but it’s sunny at the moment. The only other swimmer is just getting out and says he thinks it’s colder than it was on Tuesday.

The first rung down the ladder, it’s just feet and knees and they’re tough, they hardly notice the cold. Second rung it’s still legs, no problem, we’re all still happy we’re doing this. Third rung down brings the water up to my waist and there’s a voice inside my head that wants to know if I’m SURE I want to do this. Can we not exercise tomorrow or go to the nice warm gym? Stepping down onto the floor of the pool brings the water up the small of my back. I put my arms down. Time to go and I set off, carefully, on the first lap. I breaststroke by preference mostly because my head doesn’t want to go under the water. If my ears had hands they would be reaching for the side.

Laps 1 and 2 are sheer willpower. The water is cold. Not so cold that you’re breaking ice as you swim or anything; just cold enough to know this won’t be a long swim. Poolside it’s a balmy 21 degrees, in here it’s not.

Lap 3 is when the tingle starts. It’s especially noticeable in fatty flesh…nerve endings that are normally happily comatose inside trousers and resting on office chairs wriggle with the novelty of being outside, connecting, touching the world. It’s like the poem about the child and its foot, and the foot not knowing if it’s an apple or a foot but then ending up in a shoe all its life.

Lap 4 is when I start to feel warm. This is an illusion that will shatter somewhere halfway through lap 6. “Hypothermia,” murmurs that voice in my head.

In lap 5 Simon walks by outside the fence and says hello. Simon was Fairy godfather for the Pantomimes and has done more than anyone else in Blackheath in the campaign to keep the pool open. I manage to say hello back. Last time I did 6 laps. I’m working my way up to 10. That voice points out that the option is there to just do 6 this time and increase next time…

I do lap 7 on my back, I can finally put my head in the water. Ice trickles into my ears. My sinuses shrink and protest. My upper arms are receiving signals to move but nothing is happening. The voice in my head is saying, with some urgency, that this sort of shock can cause cardiac arrest. Brain damage, even.

Lap 8. Toes numb. Can’t breathe. That blue mound over there is my towel, spread across my bag to warm in the sun.

And then I’m out and tingling and warming up and so pleased I did this.

I wrote Poolerella here, lying on a towel in the sun by the pool. In the programme we discussed the spiritual needs that are met by growing up with a Swimming Pool:

The Spiritual Need for Swimming

The Spiritual Need for Swimming

Then they closed the pool for a year for repairs and we leafleted the town:

Death in the Duckpond

As forlorn ducks gather on the margins of the duckpond, scientists have declared concern for the rare and endangered Blackheath Fat Duck.

“Deprived of its usual summer diet of left-over sausages and melted ice-cream, the Fat Duck will be a thing of the past unless we act quickly to bring the public and junk food back to the duck pond.” Said a Blackheath scientist (who preferred to remain anonymous). The local Fat Duck Protection Group have asked people to leave left over junk food at the council offices in Katoomba for emergency deliveries to the duckpond. Please include this leaflet with your deposit.

Emergency Pool Kit Issue

All Blackheath Citizens are to be issued this summer with an emergency pool kit as compensation for Council’s continued failure to open Blackheath Pool in line with its own maintenance plan. The emergency pool kit will consist of:

One temporary paddling pool (blue)

One inflatable toy (please note this will not be a life-saving device)

One postcard of Blackheath pool

One bucket (for filling the paddling pool)

If you have not received your emergency kit by 25th August 2003 please contact Blue Mountains City Council on 47805000.

Council To Close Gum Tree

Under-use and over-supply have been cited as the reasons behind Council’s decision to close the Gum Tree presently growing at map reference xxxyyy between Blackheath and Medlow Bath.

“Well, let’s face it,” said a Councillor (who asked for their name and photograph to be published but is being denied this opportunity as a statement of civil disobedience ha ha bet you’re sorry now) “there are plenty of gum trees in and around the mountains and we can see no real reason to keep this particular tree open. Also we think it’s under-used, I mean if we were seeing lots of motorists pulling off the highway to look at it, well then we’d have to re-think. But I mean, it’s just THERE and people think that’s good enough. Well it’s not. This is a user pays society and any gum tree that wants to grow here had better find itself a good reason for existing. Council’s got better things to do than pay for the upkeep of some tree that only people in Blackheath get to see I mean what about equal opportunity? I say we woodchip it and send a little piece to every town in Australia, that way we all get a go…” (cont p17)

And so on…

And we sang our own special Anthem:

from “Poolerella, A simple everyday tale of a simple everyday princess and her pool”:

Narrator: Would you all please rise to sing the National Anthem – the words are in your programs.

Advance O Blackheath Fair

Blackheathens all let us rejoice
And dive in to our pool
We shall not shout or whinge or cry
Although the pool is cool
We’ll do the Blackheath Butterfly
Freestyle, Breast and Freefall
But Blackheathens of Blackheath fair
Will never, never crawl
Yes Blackheathens of Blackheath fair
Heads up, chests out, stand tall!