Whilst at school we had a survival training lesson where we were told how to keep ourselves afloat for 5 minutes should we fall into deep water (something about letting your top fill with air and trying to lie on your back if I remember rightly). The last thing the instructor shouted as we ran out of the lesson was to bring some spare clothes as we’d be chucking ourselves fully clothed into the swimming pool the following week to put our learning into practice.
This sounded quite fun in a weird way so it was perhaps surprising that it completely slipped my mind and on the day of this test I suddenly realised that I had nothing in to wear in the pool. I say nothing, but actually I had my games kit in my bag which the rather grumpy instructor told me to put on.
Did I have rugby shorts and jersey, or perhaps running shorts and singlet…no, that would be too helpful. Sitting in my bag was my cricket whites, consisting of white trousers and a very thick woolly cricket sweater – this was going to be a very long 5 minutes!
“Tread water for 5 minutes….3, 2, 1…in!” shouted the instructor and in jumped 15 fully clothed 16 year old boys. 14 boys wearing lightweight tracksuit bottoms and t-shirt who bobbed around merrily and one, dressed as a sheep, that after 10 seconds started drowning as his woolly sweater sucked up most of the pool and dragged him down under the weight.
There was no filling this sweater with air and there was definitely no chance of lying on my back like in the lesson. Instead there was an awful lot of splashing as I frantically kicked my legs and vainly tried to doggy paddle with my lead weighted arms to keep my head above the water.
I managed that for about 2 minutes before I was totally exhausted and slowly sunk to the bottom of the pool like Jack in Titanic. Luckily, unlike Jack I hit the bottom after 3 feet and could push myself up to the surface again and take a big gulp of air before the weight dragged me down again. Down, up, gulp air, down, up, gulp air, down…I did this for 3 very long minutes until the instructor finally blew his whistle and I could take the dead sheep off my back and drag myself wearily out of the pool.
The important lesson I’m trying to teach you here is don’t ever play cricket next to deep water. You’re welcome!