It is a truth, universally acknowledged, that there is no graceful way to exit a swimming pool.
This fact has been known to me for many years, but reinforced earlier this week during various attempts to pull myself out of the Spring Hill baths without showing too much thigh. Unfortunately, it is a task more difficult than getting Britney Spears in bed by 9pm.
I’ve begun – more fool me – to swim at the Baths in a desperate attempt to trick myself into exercise. The Baths have a pilates room attached to it: it’s small but it’s decked out with all the machinery; and I’ve been enjoying using the amusingly-named “Reformer” to work on my posture, flexibility, and to give my glutes a much-needed kick up the arse.
But the very enjoyability of pilates is also its downfall for me – it’s not an aerobic form of exercise. While you can certainly work up a sweat, it doesn’t leave me red-faced and panting for oxygen after five minutes - hence the need for something more frenetic in my “fitness regime”*, and the decision to take advantage of the pool (use of which is free for pilates regulars).
As a child, I spent my life in the water. But with the onset of high school, I began to pay less attention to the pool. The eventual move to a house with fully-ducted air-conditioning spelled the death knell for frequent swimming. The physical reason for making a swim desirable – oppressive heat – was removed, and it was much easier to sit on the couch with a glass of icy-cold Pepsi Max that don the togs. Of course, there were the inevitable public outings to Wet & Wild or public baths and beaches while traveling – but they only served to remind me of another problem that had been growing insidiously while my thighs remained securely behind a screen of denim.
Oh yes, the cottage cheese, the string-bags full of onions, the dreaded dimples. I have it in spades, which is ironic, because it looks like it’s been created with spades – like a little line of World War One trenches crisscrossing the Somme that is my upper thigh. Couple that with the blinding whiteness of my pasty Irish-Polish skin, and you understand the reason why I wear board shorts around the water. But wearing boardies while swimming for exercise is a pain in the chunky ass – it limits movement and creates drag. Luckily the Spring Hill Baths are near-deserted during the day, so I decided to take advantage of the empty pool and swim sans shorts.
Thirty laps later, and full of the joy of breast-stroking**, I was preparing to quickly exit the pool from the deep end, and head to my charming little dressing cubicle about four metres away. Unfortunately, one of the pool attendants was hanging around, chatting away on the phone. The only ladder out of the pool was on the other side – which would mean a slightly more graceful exit, but necessitate at least a 20 metre walk back to my cubicle to get my towel. Hmm. Rule that out. I needed to be able to get to the cubicle quickly, so I would have to exit from where I was. I decided against the half-flop onto the edge, knowing I would end up looking like a beached whale in reverse, struggling to pull my hindquarters onto dry land. I resolved instead to do the push-up-and-twist, a neat manuoevre that when performed correctly, makes you look athletic as well as somewhat dignified.
I pushed up onto the bar that lined the length of the pool, twisted my body so my femurs were pointing away from the pool boy, and placed my feet on the bar. I then grasped a handy balcony support pole, and pulled myself up, stepping off the bar and onto the pool edge. A split second later I was in my cubicle, hidden.
Ahhh, a job well done. I reached a hand up to my head, to remove my material swimming cap.
It wasn’t there.
I looked down.
It was still in the pool.
It had come off during the push-up phase of the exit strategy, and was currently floating a metre underwater. That meant I would have to jump back in to retrieve it – forcing yet another exit with thighs on show. Yikes!
With pool boy still present I jumped in, grabbed the cap, and turned round to the bar in one breath. I pushed up, sat on the edge, then quickly turned and grasped the pole, pulling myself upwards.
I hadn’t realised that the forces of gravity activated by jumping down into the water had forced my faded swimsuit bottom to make a journey up Mt Crackmore. Thus the lower part of my gluteus maximus was exposed to harsh pool edge cement, with the turn causing a sudden and painful graze. I quickly limped into my cubicle, hand on rump.
I peeked around the corner. Pool boy was gone. Had he seen me? He gave no indication when I shuffled out a few minutes later, board shorts fully operational.
I’m heading back for another swim in a few days. I think I might have to keep the boardies on, if only to avoid the stinging pain of an arse-graze. At least I know now why the Australian swim team wears those wet suits.
*By “fitness regime” I mean “infrequent physical alternatives to sitting on the couch watching Bargearse and scoffing chips”.
**Get your mind out of the gutter.