Saturday, November 14, 2009

Great Harwood Baths

The very place I learned to swim. Though I'd been to Wigan Baths before I came here (and to Accrington Baths long before that), I was a non-swimmer down in the shallow end clutching a kick-board. Great Harwood Baths opened in April 1967, and in July 1967 I spent much of the school holidays teaching myself to swim. My (swimming) friends were all down at the deep end, dunking and dive-bombing each other when the pool attendant's back was turned. Eleven year old me was left feeling sorry for himself in 3 feet of water. I had to swim. I managed to stay afloat and made slow forward progress using my own version of the dog-paddle. Struggling, spluttering and wheezing my way up to the 6 feet end, I was promptly sent back by the attendant. I had to modify this stroke to make it look more like front crawl. This was accomplished by flinging arms out of the water and making large splashes. Apparently, this was an acceptable stroke because I was allowed in the deep end with my friends.

Back at Wigan Baths, however, the school swimming class instructor was having none of my unconventional approaches to swimming, and I was put back into the non-swimmer group to learn breaststroke.

Great Harwood Baths

Photo © Copyright Mike and Kirsty Grundy and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

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