I heard about the graphic novel “A Taste of Chlorine”by Bastien Vives whilst listening to a book review programme on the radio yesterday and was intrigued enough to look up some images on the internet. I’ve now added it to my christmas list. Here is an extract form a review in the observer:
“…one of the more striking things about A Taste of Chlorine is that almost – emphasis on almost – every scene takes place in the pool; if shades of turquoise and aquamarine are your thing (they are mine), then you will find this book extraordinarily beautiful. Low on dialogue, it’s Vivès’s remarkable illustrations that draw you on. They capture superbly well not only the movement of human beings through water, but also the peculiar hallucinatory feeling that being in a public swimming pool often induces: the echoes, the strange tricks of light, the wobbly distortions. When our hero swims on his back, Vivès provides a few frames that reveal nothing more than the glass roof of the pool. When he swims underwater, we sense the pressure on his lungs through the smallest adjustments to his puckered mouth and bulging cheeks. When he is resting at the edge of the pool but feeling the cold, we see only his head and the very tops of his shoulders (because the water is warm, relatively speaking). It’s like watching an extremely watery silent movie: evocative, dream-like, mysterious. Never before has the monotony of swimming lengths seemed so appealing.”
And a couple of frames:
If you love those old Ladybird books from the 1970’s have a look at this: “Learnin to Breathe” from”How to SWIM and DIVE” copywrite Ladybird 1971
The advice is sound and the images bring back memories of footbaths and “NO PETTING” signs.
I was just thinking this morning about how about the process of getting up to the pool, changing, getting in the water and swimming can be almost ceremonial. If you type “ceremony of swimming” into google you get a never ending list of information about medal ceremonies for swimming events.We need to think about enjoying all aspects of getting into the water, not just how many lengths we are going to do in a given amount of time.
Last week I caught a few minutes of a radio documentary about how therapists were using smells to help patients remember things more clearly. Many people with a real fear of water, that come to learn to swim with us, can trace their fear back to an incident or incidents that occurred at a swimming pool. The smell of chlorine is so strong and specific to swimming pools that, when learners return to the pool environment their bad memories must return to them quite forcefully. As teachers/facilitators, we need to think of ways of helping people to deal with these evoked memories.