I’m a swimmer… always have been. Look, I’m no Olympian but even by Australian standards I’m better than the average bear. It’s the ultimate sport because for me it’s very natural, and the fresh, tranquil feeling I get when I’m stroking through water with only bubbles in my ears is basically my idea of heaven.
In Australia, I’m not overly remarkable. I’m just one of many people who choose to wake up early and hit the pool for a refreshing pre-work swim. I can hold my own – I usually get away with swimming in the fast lane (unless there’s a pre-teen Ian Thorpe smashing out butterfly) and I’ve competed in numerous open water swims (though I’m definitely mid-pack in that situation).
But in Austria… in Austria I feel like a swimming legend.
Back home, I’d been approached by people at pools remarking on my natural swimming ability… I’d been picked out as a ‘swimmer’ in social situations… but let’s be honest… most of the time that only happened when someone was trying to pick me up.
In Austria, people are genuinely impressed.
Because I swim freestyle… because I wear a swimming cap and goggles… because I put my head underwater… because I have a mesh bag of swimming equipment… in Austria I definitely feel like a swimming legend. And it feels good. In Australia none of the above gives you more than a casual glance, but in Austria you’re just one of a small pool of sport swimmers. I’ve been approached numerous times in Austria with people applauding my speed and style, asking me where I learnt and what I’m training for.
Note: I’m not training for anything people, I’m just loving life.
This year I missed the first two weeks of swim season because I was away for work and holidays. But the first day I showed up, three separate people asked me where I’d been, because they’d noticed my absence.
And again, I felt like a swimming legend. Of course, they do expect it from me… I am Australian and therefore I must swim. Kind of true, but there are also plenty of non-swimmers in Australia.
And I know I’m not actually a swimming legend. And I still think that anyone in Austria who bothers to go down to the pool to do a few laps is really cool (even if you are just doing breast stroke with sunglasses on and using it as a social session). And don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of people in Austria that swim much better and faster than me (jealous much… YES). But sometimes it feels great to feel like a swimming legend…. even just for a moment.