New Castle News

April 12, 2013

Gary Church: I was in the pool! I was in the pool!

Gary Church
New Castle News

NEW CASTLE — I don't know if my blogs will ever become part of a history book.

Just in case they do, I think students should know how they did stuff in the 1950s swimming class at George Washington Junior High.

The basement pool had a shallow part for non-swimmers and a much deeper part for the experienced swimmers and divers.

I told Mr. Ralph Pugh that I could not swim, so I got to stay with the non-swimmers.

Technically, I could swim, just not real good.

If you want to experience real fear, be a non-swimmer and hear the announcement that there’s going to be a swimming test.

The test was, we would swim, starting at the deep end of the pool, to the shallow end.

A lot of kids turned white when they heard this.

When it was my turn, it was either sink or swim. It was a small miracle that I swam the whole length of the pool.

It was good that I made it, but bad when I got promoted to the swimmers side of the pool.

What this meant was, I had to take the diving test.

I had never dived in my life, and I never plan to again.

Why we had to learn to dive, I'll never know. If I want to get into a pool, a “cannonball” works well enough for me.

My first dive was one of the biggest belly smackers known to man. It almost emptied out the pool.

When I got out of the water, it looked like someone had painted my stomach red.

There were a few snickers among my classmates.

I did pass swimming class, but I don't know how.

There is one more thing that I may never understand in my lifetime.

Why weren't the boys allowed to wear swim suits? We had to swim in the nude.

The girls got to wear suits, but not the guys.

We were a very well-behaved group. Mr. Pugh was the proud owner of a paddle and used it on occasion.

Yes, I have seen the red welts on the behind of a student who misbehaved during swim class.

In my latter years, I have learned much better uses of swimming pools.

Sitting in a recliner at sunny Myrtle Beach, with a Pepsi in hand, is more my style of pool life.

Poolside relaxation should have definitely been included in our swim class.

I would have aced it.