Today’s swim was at King’s Cross Pond Club, the man-made natural swimming pond which is part of the King’s Cross development. This is swimming pool as art installation: a (quote) dialogue between nature and the city. The pictures on the website of lissom bodies wading amidst reeds are a trifle ingenuous; in fact you can’t swim in the reedy bit and the rest is a (refreshingly lovely, refreshingly unchlorinated) natural swimming pool, with a nice shape and a charming setting, true, but without reeds. However, the ‘dialogue’ between natural and urban is real. It’s wonderful to swim in a clear, sweet pond amongst half-built apartment complexes, and although it might sound as though I’m being ironic, I’m not. I don’t know what it would be like on a boiling summer day seething with fifty other bodies, but on a windy rainy May Sunday when our group of six made up the majority of the people in there, it was magical .
I could go on about it at length, but at the end of the day, a swim’s a swim, although this one was, it has to be said, particularly enjoyable, partly because it was undertaken in beautiful surroundings with good friends*, but also because there was no point to it but to have a good time. I had no distance to do. I didn’t have to achieve anything, I didn’t have to stay in a particular length of time. All I had to do was swim. (I love swims when I have to achieve things too, mind, and it’s probably the contrast which is so charming.)
And one other thing. When we got in, I got to the edge and it said “2.8 metres”. I hadn’t quite worked out how deep that was in my head, but I knew it was deep enough to jump, so I jumped. The water rushed past me, cold and alien and wholly invigorating, and at the end of my plunge, as I hung suspended in blue, I looked up, and saw through a stream of bubbles the surface like a silver ceiling suspended above me. For various reasons (none of them, I assure you, morbid or untoward) I have been thinking a bit about death recently and it occurred to me to wonder if death may a bit like this: a sudden plunge into a strange and invigorating new element, and then buoyancy taking us, the bubbles of our last breath streaming past us as we rise towards the light. It would be nice to think so. And hopefully, in Heaven the showers will be warm….
*Shout out to Hils**, Dermot, Rachel, Andy and Al, all of whom womanfully manned up (or manfully womanned up) and got their arses into 16° water with nary*** a squeal.
**Although, let’s be honest, 16° is neither here not there to Hils, who barely bothers to get out of bed if the water’s above 12°.
** *That is how it’s spelt. I checked.