To the gulag with you, landlubber!! / Do gulagu s tebou, ty pozemska kryso!!To the gulag with you, landlubber!! | Czechmatediary
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To the gulag with you, landlubber!! / Do gulagu s tebou, ty pozemska kryso!!

I put my daughter Hahna into swimming lessons this year and boy, does the smell of the pool bring memories! It may be embarrassing to admit but I learned how to swim when I was 9 (!!) years old. We did have mandatory swimming classes ever since I was in kindergarten but they did not seem to help. Years and years of training and no results. You can imagine the communist government was not pleased with me. In fact, I am surprised they have not sent me to gulags or somewhere even worse where they deal with the ‘slower’ individuals!

I do have a good excuse, however. Those years of swimming were pure hell. You want a proof? How about if I told you that every Thursday morning my mom would wake me up – it was still dark out – to inform me to get up because it was time for my swimming class. The next thing I would do is threw up. I threw up EVERY Thursday because I was so scared of those darn classes! As I said, it was still dark out, I had to wear a rubbery swim hat that always pulled half of my hair out, the teachers were evil and the pool stunk of pee. If you forgot the hat, they would not let you into the pool AND you would get yelled at. Sooner or later the forgetfulness of the 4-year-olds was taken advantage of by the locker ladies. You know, the ones that sit in the locker room and don’t do anything? Anyhow, these evil women would offer us some hats for rent but they would also charge us 5 krowns under the table. The problem was that as a kindergartener you kind of did not carry any money….

Once I made it through the locker rooms it was time to go to the pool area. The evil swim teacher would make us sit down on the chlorine-drowned floor and we would practice swimming moves, first with legs and then with our arms. And then it was time to try it for real. It was quite a different experience than what Hahna has gone through so far; everyone is so gentle with her, they make the lesson fun and there are swim guards everywhere just in case one of the children started to drown.

Not with our class though. One by one, we were literary thrown in the middle of an Olympic-size pool and were expected to swim. Naturally, I began to drown. Only when I was just about dead the evil teacher would hit me with this 10-foot pole, which was supposed to be a hint for me to get hold of it. If I wasn’t dead by then I would catch onto the pole (more out of a survival reflex than as an act of obedience) to be pulled out of that pool. After a few other kids fulfilled their turn it was my turn again…and it went like this for the whole hour.

After my swim class was over, life was good again. I was so happy to be alive! Now I have another week without puking, pee-stained water and the constant threat of dying!

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9 comments… add one
  • Sarka September 23, 2010, 12:41 am

    so funny! I have a similar experience although not as dramatic; I would used to get athlete’s foot from those pools all the time!

    Super clanek! Ja mam podobne zkusenosti, ale ne az tak hrozne, jako ty. vzdycky jsem z tech bazenu dostala plisne!!!

  • keef September 23, 2010, 3:12 am

    that picture is awesome haha

  • Sona September 23, 2010, 8:33 am

    Poor Tajna! I remember the same! It was so not nice and nothing like the swimming lessons here! I had to say we were lucky to have one nice teacher that was really nothing like the others. The smell, the athlete’s foot stuff and the awful hat that I hate to this day! Exactly! Funny that after the communism it was fine to swim without it! Can’t wait to sign up my boy for some classes next year. And it is not so surprising that kids back home learn to swim much later. I guess they are not so addicted to pools in summer since the summer is not soooo hot and there is no sea in Czech so they don’t feel so much need I guess. My nephew is 8 and just this summer started to swim a little.
    Thanks for reminding me how awful the communist time was! So strict, I guess we should talk to our kids about it so they would appreciate what they have.

  • Eva Z. September 23, 2010, 9:08 am

    Wow, this sounds really crazy! I had swimming classes with my school and it wasn’t that bad but the environment was similar. I don’t remember it much, maybe the gloomy pool area…but I knew how to swim at least the basic “prsa” so drowning wasn’t an issue. In summer, we had access to “military pool”, outdoor heated pool for military members (my dad was in the military), so there we would practice swimming and spend hot days, it was really nice. But other “koupaliste” and indoor swimming pools were usually disastrous…

  • Tanja September 23, 2010, 11:12 am

    Remember guys when we unpacked our snack packs after the lesson? Bread with cheese – of course packed in paper towel?? And ONLY sometimes and apple?

    Ted mi ta ‘ubrouskova svacina’ chybi 🙂

  • Madlenka September 23, 2010, 7:40 pm

    Ja nastesti mela babicku na morave a maminka zname v zelenine….pekne pocteni.

  • Pavlina September 26, 2010, 4:56 am

    Hi Tania,

    yeah, I remember the swimming lessons. To be honest, they made me fear of swimming and I have actually never learned to swim 🙁

  • Marika September 26, 2010, 3:51 pm

    What a traumatic experience! Which swimming pool did they make you to go to? Our kids are truly lucky to be able to learn to swim in U.S. both of my kids had a great learning experience. It is amazing how well it works if you just smile at the kids and use some gentle words instead of throwing them in the pool and yelling at them to swim. I am not surprised it took you little bit longer, Tanja, to learn to swim.

  • Tanja September 26, 2010, 10:39 pm

    I don’t remember the name of the park but it was in Prague 2.
    My daughter goes to YMCA and she loves it. I wonder if Czech parents take their kids to the Czech YMCA too now or is it still the responsibility of the state to teach kids swimming?

    PS: Pavlino, to je mi fakt lito, ze te komousi tak odradili od plavani…ja jsem nakonec plavani milovala, ale ted ziju u more (nebo spis teda oceanu a kdyz do nej skocim nohy jednou za rok, tak jsem stastna 😉 Je na me moc studeny!!!

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