Gone Swimming

Anyone who has met me will know that I am not the athletic type. I wasn’t bad at running short distances when I was at school and did play some competitive sport until my early twenties but that is in the (distant) past. Exercise comes in the form of turning over the pages of a book these days. You may be surprised, therefore, that I took a trip to Morpeth’s new leisure centre to go swimming.

The trip was principally to go with my grandchildren and so there were six of us in the party including parents, grandparents and grandchildren. As there was plenty of cover I took the opportunity to slip out of the small pool and try a few lengths in the big pool. It was then that I started to notice a few things.

Who counts the number of strikes it takes to get from one end of the pool to the other? I do of course as I am a congenital counter. I noticed that it took me fewer strokes to get from the shallow end to the deep than the other way around. If you are interested it was around 38 one way and 44 the other. It was as if I was swimming uphill on the way back, yet even I know that water can’t be on a slope. There had to be some other explanation.

The other thing I noticed was that in the small pool the steps down seemed to stop half way down. How can I describe this? What should have been the three bottom steps were flat. I knew they were steps as they had a blue border and the sensation was strange. My feet wanted to step up yet I knew they were flat. Again, there had to be some reason.

Not wanting to let things rest I got into a conversation with one of the members of staff. I surmised that the flow of water through the pool was making the difference in the number of strokes I needed to take yet the steps into the small pool were far more interesting.

It turns out that the level of that pool can be raised and lowered as required, depending upon the activity. I’d say it was a metre deep when we were there. The floor can be raised and lowered hence the steps. It can go down by another three steps and rise so that there is no water in it at all, or at least that’s the way it seems as, in fact, the amount of water stays constant and the floor sits at any level inside the body of water. At night the floor can be raised to act as a cover to retain heat. What an amazing piece of ingenuity.

I’m always fascinated by how things work and a few questions here and there can lead you into universes you never knew existed. 

My arms were aching the next morning. It must have been all that swimming uphill.

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