the sound of the swimming pool

We line up in our rows of eight

Waiting for the call to arms, to strip

And fold our tracksuits, neatly in the plastic box,

Swinging arms to loosen muscles, taut and ready

For that moment when we spring to life.

But noises are the thing that still

Haunts my dreams and brings that heartbeat back.

The sound of man, saying ‘take your marks’,

The beep and splash and cheering crowds,

The pool itself, a living life that breathes

And hurts and moves like me, waiting for

The moment when I’m on that block, in the water

Underneath the surface of, muffling the crowds that scream,

Their voices just a distant rumble of

Thunder that will dwindle as

The race draws to its painful end.

on having a nervous disposition

She’s nervous and really she must

Snap out of this behaviour today,

That’s what they’d always eventually say.

But how could I stop a train on its tracks

Careering through time and immovable space?

I would wriggle inside my tight bound constraints

And hope for a day when I’d outrun the train

And steady the sea that swells inside me.

I don’t know if any of you reading this have ever had extreme nerves but I was plagued by them as a child and, to a lesser extent, they have followed me through to adulthood.

As a child I was a competitive swimmer and before every meet I would start to feel nauseous and by the time I was about to be racing I would be vomiting uncontrollably.

It was detrimental to my performance and it was embarrassing. But what made it worse was the people around me who regularly told me that I needed to snap out of it, or get the nerves under control.

I would have loved nothing more than to get them under control, but the truth of the matter was that I had been programmed to believe that my parents would take their love away from me if I were to do badly. The terror I felt came from a place where I thought that my caregivers would stop providing for me, and for a child that means death.

I think that children who display extreme nerves have often had some sort of trauma in their life and my heart goes out to them when people say pull yourself together.

I know that as I embark on my new teaching career I’m going to come across so many children that are jumpy and nervous and my intention is to treat them with kindness and understanding, because who the hell knows what they may have been through?

Much Love

Rachel xx

Underwater swimmer

grayscale photo of woman

Swimming underwater, like love,

Is cold and dark

But swim a little closer

To the rippled surface

And the sunlight filters in,

Warm and welcoming

It beckons us

And when we gasp

That bubbled air

We know we’re where we’re meant to be.