By Freya Hill
I have many happy childhood memories spent at the local swimming pool. It was a large but simple complex, where I spent school swimming days and had swimming lessons in summer’s evenings. Occasionally we’d have a barbecue dinner with another family at the pools, my parents passing out plastic plates and opening bags of crisps.
I thought of those summer evenings of my childhood over this last summer – my last summer before becoming a parent.
My third trimester of my pregnancy spanned the summer. The days grew hotter and then gradually cooled as I grew bigger. I purchased a maternity swimsuit and would walk the 25-minute walk to the pools early on the weekend mornings. Leggings, t shirt, full brim sunhat and backpack. I looked more like I was setting off on a serious hike than just walking down to the pools before breakfast.
But once I was in the pool, I was free again. Free to be as fast as I was before I was pregnant.
Free to be just me, and the baby. Not encumbered by my slowing body, the heat, and the gaze of others on my growing baby and me. I would arrive at the pools just as the serious swimmers were leaving, but before the families were arriving. It was usually my husband and me, and a few grey-haired regulars. Often, we would each have a lane to ourselves. The sun rising, the seagulls lazily picking at the soggy hot chip from the night before, and me willing myself to do just one more lap before waddling home for a rest.