Monday, 13 August 2007

Swimming Culture in Ireland

Jenny and I went back to Seapoint yesterday lunchtime, whilst Jordan de-phlegmed. Sunny Sunday, over 50 people in the little changing shelters, on the rocks and in the water, many of them in their seventies and eighties, as well as a tiny girl in armbands and a pregnant woman who dived as gracefully as the black guillemots which accompanied us out to Inishbofin. Everyone chatting, changing, dipping and comparing, all the time various states of toggage und undress, wetness and basking. It struck me where I had encountered such a leisured water-culture before; the baths in Budapest. True, those were single-sex, but there was the same quiet yet sociable enjoyment of being not only in, but about to be in and having been in, water. I haven't encountered quite the same thing in British lidos, but I rather hope it flourishes in Hampstead Ponds, where I, shamefully, have never swum. People getting in, shivering, saying 'It's lovely, isn't it', and at least half-meaning it. It's the feeling afterwards you're looking for though, and the warmth of pride that comes with the boast to friends that you've done it before and you'll do it again.


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