Friday, March 20, 2015

The First Time

I first came into contact with the old baths in Ashley Street when Mum and I went to watch cousins Victor and John swimming in the Manawatu champs, probably early 1960. Of John I remember very little, but I remember watching Victor in a breaststroke race.

Mum and I sat in the midst of the crowd on the long wooden seating above the dressing sheds, looking down on the pool below. The water, divided on the surface by black lane ropes, sparkled under the bright lights. The sky above was dark and clear enough to see the stars. Up there on the seats I felt drawn to both the black above and the blue below.

Apart from the school swimming sports, I'd never been to watch swimming races before. Being a spectator didn't suit me. I wanted to be down there with the competitors, diving into the water, part of the action.

That night, my first time at the Municipal Baths, a swimmer was born.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Why Didn't the Baths Open On Time

For, example, in my own research into the story of my local baths, I couldn’t work out why they were late opening for the 1918 – 1919 swimming season -remember, I live down under in New Zealand so the swimming season is October to March.

The answer became evident. A terrible influenza epidemic was sweeping the world after World War 1 and New Zealand, being a small country was hit particularly hard. Of course the swimming pool wasn’t open, when schools and other organisations were closed.

Knowing a bit about what was happening  at the time helps the reader understand your story better. It’s worth making the effort to include the bigger picture to give a better understanding.