It seems impossible now just how much we loved going to our local swimming pool as teenagers. We were fortunate to have a choice of two outdoor pools were we spent long summer days and the indoor baths for the winter months. The indoor baths boasted two different pools, each with lockers all around the poolside. They operated a timed session in each pool and we would queue up waiting for the turnstile to open and dash for a locker. We didn’t want to waste a second and always came prepared with our swimsuits on under our clothes, it was a race to get out of the locker and into the pool.
Now, back in the late sixties, early seventies, swimwear was pretty basic. We tended to only wear bikinis at the beach or the outdoor pools, for winter swimming it was always the one piece. Mostly one colour, they tended to have a rounded neck and a scooped low back. Ideal for clean strokes through the water, it was a simple garment that did what it was made to do. A suit to swim in.
This was a time of puberty, of changing body shape and hormones raging. I had long black hair, which I thought to be my best feature, it would flow out behind me as I swam and a I fancied myself to look like a mermaid, or a film star depending on my mood. Anyway the lads at the pool were always really friendly, and constantly teasing us girls. They would swim underwater and lift us up on their shoulders before pitching us back into the water. We loved it.
So, Saturday afternoon, like every other we were impatient to get through the doors and into the pool. As usual we dashed for the lockers, stashing our bags and clothes on the seat, this day I was annoyed as I had not had time to put my swimsuit on under my clothes, meaning I would be last into the pool, I had to rush. Once out of the locker and poolside my friend I waved to my pals. There were the usual crowd already in the water so I walked along to the deep end before stylishly diving in. I swam to the shallow end where my friend and her sister were looking at me very oddly. I couldn’t think why. It was several minutes before the sister, two years older than us, whispered in my ear.
I can still feel the shame and panic, I looked down to check she was right, and yes, in my haste to get into the pool I had put my costume on back to front. The long scoop back that reached passed the waist was now almost showing my tummy button, not to mention my other growing assets. The walk from the shallow end of the pool back to the locker was a long one for sure.
It didn’t phase me though, I whipped off the soaking suit and slid the wet fabric, this time the right way round back on and was out and back in the water within minutes.
The lesson learned that day was truly about more haste less speed, and a bit about being more attentive. I wish I could say it worked.