Once when I was visiting Devon staying near to the river Dart I was desperate to swim in the river but I was a bit nervous to swim alone. I was not frightened of the current or the cold, but I was worried about looking foolish by not swimming in the right place or not knowing where to get in. I decided to be brave and so I put my swimming costume on under my dress and set off towards the river. I was staying at the top of a hill and the river was in the valley below. I could see the river from the road as I walked down but it was at the bottom of a steep field and I had seen cows in the field earlier. I am a bit afraid of cows so I did not want to cross the field. I walked to the bottom of the hill and I saw there was a path looping back towards the river. I followed the path a little way until I came across a group of women and children who splashing about in the shallow water.
I asked them if they would mind if I swam here as I did not want to swim alone. They said that they didn’t mind. I took off my dress and left it on the bank with my bag and my towel.
The water was completely clear and the river bed was all stones, no squishy mud or reeds. The water was fresh but not cold. I swam upstream. The current was not too strong and the swimming was easy. I swam for about ten minutes then turned to swim back downstream. As I was swimming back I heard a the sound of a steam train coming along the track that ran parallel to the river but high up above it.
It was close enough that I could clearly see the driver the and as the train passed he looked down at me and waved then tooted the whistle sending two puffs of steam into the air. I waved back as the carriages rattled past and several of the passengers also waved down at me. it was a beautiful sunny day and perhaps they were thinking that they too would like to be swimming in the river.
When I reached the women and children and my dress and towel I climbed out and sat in the sun to dry.
As I sat there two older, white haired women came walking along.
Was that you we saw swimming just now? They asked me.
I said it was.
You looked so elegant and so happy. They said.
I thanked them for saying I was elegant and told them that I had felt very happy at that moment, that I had been a bit nervous about swimming alone but that I had wanted to swim so much that I made myself be brave. They told me that they had often swum in the river as children and that people used to swim further up where there were deeper pools and no cows churning up the water but that people did not swim there so much now.
When I got back to where I was staying friends were amazed that I had gone swimming by myself in the river but it occurred to me I had not been alone at all.