Funny, what inspires us as writers.

I’ve never been much of a swimmer myself. I can manage a stately breast stroke in a flowered bathing cap, but it just isn’t my thing, if you know what I mean.

I grew up on a farm, in the middle of a drought, and was ten years old before our gully filled for the first time.

I nearly drowned in the Biloela pool in primary school, trying to swim its breadth with my eyes squeezed shut against the unfamiliar chemicals. I listed to the right  and ended up swimming an elongated dog’s leg before finally touching, exhausted, at the deep end.

Infrequent trips to the placid waters of Yeppoon and Tannum Sands didn’t teach me that much. Though I remember the excitement of my brother nearly drowning and afterwards discovering a tiny fish, still alive, in his Speedos.

It surprises me still that I grew up to marry a man with salt water in his veins, a man who is grounded in water. It surprises me even more that our children can swim and that I loved them enough to spend a large chunk of the past 18 years poolside.

But what surprises me the most is how much I’ve grown to love the friendships and sense of community surrounding our little neighbourhood swim club.

For the past nine years, every Spring and Summer, we’ve put out the lane ropes on a Saturday afternoon, gossiped with our friends and cheered our littlies on as they strove for personal best times in their races against the stop watch.

Dozens of trophies crowd our kids’ shelves including one for “Most Attentive and Best Behaved” and another for “The Esther Williams Award for Best Technique”.

My own trophy shelf is bare, but for one – awarded for debating, in 1977 – until now.

Because now I too have a swimming trophy. Awarded last Saturday at my last Swim Club meeting after nine fun-filled years. My youngest is moving on, so we will too, leaving the Club to the up-and-coming young families.

They’ll miss me on the megaphone, they say. I know I’ll miss them. But I’ll have something special to remember them by ….

My first ever swimming trophy and farewell gift with an inscription that reads “love KGASC”…

And I do.

Because without all those Saturdays poolside with the Kelvin Grove Amateur Swim Club, I would never have written my children’s novel Henry Hoey Hobson about a boy who nearly drowns in the turbulent waters of Year Seven.

So thanks KGASC for the inspiration. It’s funny where we writers find it, isn’t it?

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Comments
  1. Sandra says:

    Love it Chris – Goosebumps! We will miss you, but hope you make the odd guest appearance!

  2. chrisbongers says:

    Haven’t given back the megaphone yet, Sandra, so you never know….. 🙂

  3. Penny Holliday says:

    Thanks Chris. KGSC and you have taught my boys about fair play, having a go, how to “build a bridge” and not take themselves too seriously (well one anyway) in the pool. Not bad for a non swimmer! A lovely childhood memory for them to cherish and I am sure they will never forget your megaphone pzazz! Penny

  4. chrisbongers says:

    Pen, one of my biggest pleasures was seeing your big boy come back and work with the littlies this year. Think he enjoyed it as much as the kids did! xx

  5. Noice story Christine. I’m a salty – about to do my first ocean swim at my mature age. Watch the newspapers for reports of mishaps. I’m likely to end up in New Zealand as i have a strong right arm relative to my left.
    You’ll have more time for writing now? A story about a woman who is lost in a world where swim club no longer gives her life meaning.

    thanks for your encouraging words about the QWC Year of the Novel. I hope my experience closely follows yours. I’m writing a lot but suddenly finding that full length narrative is quite different to my previous focus on short stories.

    • chrisbongers says:

      There’s a lot of balls to keep in the air when you’re writing a novel, Steve. Enjoy the juggle (and that ocean swim as well). Look forward to hearing more of your natatorial exploots. 🙂

  6. Cath Miller says:

    Hi Chrissy, Glad to hear that you loved the trophy. I also have not had swimming as one of my talents. Grace, Will and Abbey have all benefitted by attending both lessons and club. I do hope you are invited back for the occasional breakup party. I also love that you have now bought me up to speed on new technology. This is my first time at publishing. Cath Miller

    • chrisbongers says:

      Hey Cath, did Abbey tell you that she gave Huggy a run for his money at Touch on Sunday? I thought he’d be a pest, but those little girls kept him busy!
      Nice to see you on the internet – and as far as breakups go, make sure there’s bubbles and I’ll be there. 🙂

  7. Deb Riggall says:

    Hi Chris, You’ll be missed on that megaphone. As Maryann said in her speech – there’s no-one that can marshall like you can. Swimming was the one sport I wasn’t too bad at, in my younger (& thinner) days, so having Naomi and Craig enjoy swimming as much as I did has been great and KGASC has been a big part of that. And I must say it is quite a pleasant way to spend a couple of hours on a Saturday afternoon. I’m not sure if we’ll be there next season either but if not KGASC will always be a fond memory for our family. Hope to see you around. We never did get you to sign HHH for us. Deb

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