Taking it easy

Olive small

Unbelievably, there is still a school of thought that says if you just throw children into the water they will figure out for themselves how to swim. I hate this view, and I know that it it is not true and it doesn’t work. I have taught too many adults who have been traumatised by this approach.  Children can also be frightened of the water and you must deal with the fear respectfully and gently. The little girl in this photo had hated her swimming lessons and was not able to move forward because she felt frightened and uncomfortable in the water. In the first lesson we didn’t bother too much about technique instead we chatted about various things, including the Great Fire of London (her history topic at school),  what you can do about difficult friends, her sister’s ballet exam and her cousin’s wedding. I sometimes worry that the parents will wonder why we are just chatting throughout the lessons but I sort of want the children to forget that they are in the water. Physical skills such as swimming take a long time to fully master. You have to enjoy the process of learning if you are going to get anywhere so the most important thing I can do is help whoever I am teaching to love swimming and to develop a sense of the deeply comforting and relaxing feeling that being in the water can bring. I think in this case I have succeeded.


“The act of swimming is a primordial act; the body becomes more sensitive and aware of nature in water,” Sylvain Hartenberg.

kings x pond 3

Today I went to the Kings Cross Pond. I thought it was just another place to go for a swim but it was more amazing than I ever imagined it would be. I vaguely knew it was some kind of temporary art project but I hadn’t thought too much about that aspect. In fact the whole place was a revelation to me.

I knew that the weather was forecast to be beautiful today and I decided to take the opportunity to visit the pond, something I have been meaning to do all summer. As usual I had difficulty finding the pond. I am so bad at directions and I don’t know how to use the GPS on my phone properly. I had brought an old A to Z with me but as I had forgotten to bring my glasses that was useless. I did find it eventually and from the first moment I was astounded.

The pond is in the middle of a building site. It is made to look even more like a building site by the red and white edging and workman’s hut like changing rooms. It is a temporary installation, part swimming pond, part artwork.

It is cleaned by plants, gravel and somehow or other that I don’t quite understand yet, by the presence of the swimmers. They allow a maximum of 163 swimmers a day so you have to book your place but it is not expensive, only £3.80 per person per swim. There are sun loungers, a life guard, changing rooms, showers (cold) and grass to sit on.

The staff were helpful and friendly. The water temperature was 15 degrees.

kings x pond 2

I got into the water quickly. I am always amazed when I get into cold water how I seem to be overwhelmed by a rush of happiness. After that I couldn’t stop smiling. I immediately fell into conversation with another woman, also Jane. It was her first visit too and I think we were both so amazed and happy to be there that we had to communicate it to one another.

The good thing is that although it is small there is a shallow end and a deep part, something that is so often missing from swimming pools these days. It is so much nicer to swim in deep water, you feel more supported, at least I do. I stayed in swimming up and down for about twenty minutes. I did not feel cold at all but I could start to feel that my hands and feet were getting a bit numb so I thought I’d better get out.

I got dressed and went to have a cup of coffee in the lovely café nearby that seemed to be connected to an urban garden. They were growing all sorts of plants and herbs. Then I went up on to the viewing platform to look at the pool from above.

kings x pond 1

More information about the pond can be found here Kings Cross Pond. It is absolutely worth a visit.