I went swimming again at the gym tonight - a seriously painful (in a nice sort of way) exercise for the Mini-Me of Moby Dick the White Whale. I specifically ignore the kids, retirees and other crazy people that look like they just want to dice - I'm not going to sink that low (sorry, had to). I guess most people prefer the treadmills and stuff (they have the advantage that you can keep your iPod with you), so whenever I say I swim recreationally, people ask me: "did you swim competitively/ in school?" or "are you a good swimmer?"
So I tell the truth: "I learnt how to swim on the Internet."
"Whoa! No way!" etc. etc. Why is it surprising that something like that can be learnt over the Internet? Of course I could do survival oriented, plaasdam-style swimming. I didn't jump in the pool at age 3 waiting at the bottom of the deep end for the instructor to come and get me for nothing. But I never had training for anything as basic as freestyle, yet I like swimming with the Interstitial One, who is infinitely better than I am at it. So one day I searched on the net and learnt all sorts of things like pretending you are rolling on a skewer, how to cup your hands and how to breathe and I practised it a bit at the Long Street swimming pool, each evening double-checking why I still had a bad case of chlorine throat.
The most amazing thing was that one day when I suddenly stopped drinking the pissy pool water and started breathing fresh air. I could never manage more than two lengths, because I couldn't sort the breathing thing out, but once I got the hang of that, it's merely a question of how fit you are.
I wouldn't like to actually see myself from the outside: making waves and whale mating calls and slowly thashing forward, refusing to drown, but it works for me. Try it. Although I can't find the underwater photos again that I used three years ago, some useful links can be found here and here and here. And I like this illustration, found here.
Now just add water.