The Swimming Lesson

This song started in Karine Polwart’s workshop at Glasgow Songwriting Festival.  The festival was held at the, currently empty, Govanhill Baths.

We were sitting at the bottom of the main pool.  The goal of the workshop was to use the surroundings to stir your memories and I was tasked with writing the first lines of a song, using my memories of going swimming for inspiration.

It was fascinating wandering around this old pool, with all the stalls surrounding it.  It immediately conjured up memories of going swimming at the Leisure Bowl in Alloa.

I sat down at the bottom of the deep end, looking up, and immediately remembered my swimming lessons, diving into the deep end to fetch objects from the bottom.

My toes touch water, it makes me chill
I want to dive in and I know I will
But the water taunts me, it’s laughing
At me
I see the darkness and fill with fear
How on earth will I get down thee
The water’s raging, it’s yelling
At me

You’ve got to jump in and dive down, down, down
You’ve got to jump in and dive down

My teacher’s shouting, I’m trembling
She’s going to push me in, I know she will
The water’s howling, it’s picking
On me
I’m counting down one, two, three
I shut my eyes so I can’t see
And now I’m falling, there’s no way back
For me

And now I’m sinking down, down, down
Now I’m sinking down

I’m in the water and I’m sinking
There’s muffled silence and it’s humming
My arms are waving, am I drowning?
And I’m racing down, down, down

I touch the bottom and open my eyes
Light surrounds me, to my surprise
This beauty’s deadly as I find out
Can’t breathe

I’m rushing upwards, I feel the fear
There’s air up there, so far yet so near
I start to panic, but I push through
The waves

I break the surface jumping up, up, up
I break the surface jumping up

The light is blinding and I survive
The sounds are deafening, but so alive
The water’s clapping, it’s cheering
For me