On Sunday I went swimming.
I usually go with a friend,
but she was busy celebrating her father's birthday in Dortmund
on a tram!
So I went alone.
It's good to see youngsters enjoying themselves
and being confident in the water.
I didn't learn to swim until I was 18.
It's also interesting to see the difference in cultures when living abroad.
And I think I notice some interesting differences
between the English and German cultures during my swimming trips.
I've often commented to my friend
the casual approach to water safety that they seem to have at the pool.
Not once did a pool attendant come onto the pool side.
There was one I noticed sat behind some glass, observing,
but often I don't even see that.
I don't think it's that they have a casual approach to safety,
more that the resposibility is given to the individual.
Parents are expected to be resposible for their children
and children learn that difficult concept of taking resposibility for themselves.
A child of maybe four years of age was enjoying jumping off a diving board.
It was about one metre above the water.
He was clearly enjoying it,
even jumping off backwards,
and doing it all in an orderly manner.
and checking that no one was underneath him in the water.
His father was in the pool,
watching him closely and commenting from time to time.
I don't think the boy could swim.
He was wearing something to keep him afloat.
It's not unusual to see children wearing float belts,
swimming in the deep end,
and diving off the boards,
but always accompanied and supported
by a parent.
What I found more unusual on Sunday,
was when this boy's older brother,
maybe seven or eight years old,
took it upon himself to put the chain across the metre high board
and take down the notice on the 3.55 metre high board
and proceed to climb the steps,
followed by his younger brother.
At this point, the father came in close to where the boys were,
though he remained in the pool.
In fact he only got out and went to his son,
when the boy realised his mistake in taking on something so big.
His father went up the steps and carried him down,
The boy then reconsidered,
and decided he did want to try.
So the father went up with the boy,
and together they stood on the board,
and watched as the older brother jumped.
The father then waited while the younger boy eventually jumped off
this very high board,
then the father jumped, once his young son had got to the side of the pool.
The boy clearly enjoyed the experience
as he continued to climb up the steps and jump off by himself after that.
My experience of pools in England are generally that;
there are always,
always at least one pool attendant on duty
on the pool side, at all times.
Always ready to take charge,
stop any child wearing swimming aids,
who dares to go past the non-swimmers imaginery line,
with or without a responsible adult in attendance.
Diving boards are separate from the general swimming area.
On Sunday, it was the resposibility of the divers,
to make sure no one dived onto a swimmer.
In England the diving board would be regulated as to when it could be used.
Also pools are generally much noisier in England
in a negative way,
with a lot of shouting.
Having lived abroad now for a few years,
it's interesting to note these cultural differences.
I just wish I'd have the nerve
to make that leap into the water.