Collecting badges and learning to swim

We spotted this fellow blogger reminiscing about the Canadian Red Cross swim program online and thought we'd share his post. We're glad he kept his mementoes! Do you remember the badges you received while learning to swim?

Clarke’s Pool

February 20, 2013 By 30 Comments

Clarkes Pool

The photographs of Clarke’s Pool are described as a walk down memory lane for “three generations of Castlegar kids who learned how to swim.”  Well he’s partially right.  It was also the training ground for the suburban kids like my brother Rich and me who hailed from Ootischenia (pop. 856).

Rich’s recollection of the pool was that it was “one of the scariest places he’d ever seen.”  Ominous.  Large.  Deep.  Dark.  Intimidating.  With a “giant” slide coming down high above from the rooftop.  My memories were frighteningly similar.  Yet, the picture today certainly doesn’t align with the Stephen King-like depiction of the darkness banging around our heads.  The pool was smaller.  And shallower.  And brighter.  With a kiddy slide jutting off the side of the garage.

The prize?

swimming badge, red cross, swimming

Here they are.  A Canadian Red Cross Junior Swimming badge and a completion certificate.

To pass the final exam (and to get a badge), you needed to tread water in the deep end for 90 seconds.  An eternity.

The final exam loomed large with the completion of each weekly lesson.

For Rich, half boy – half inner tube, 90 seconds elapsed in a snap of the fingers.  If you pass him a sandwich or two every few hours, he could lie on his back for 90 days.

For DK, his older brother, this was dread.  Fear vacuumed air from his lungs before jumping in. He flailed about.  His head bobbed in and out.  And he choked on the heavily chlorinated water.

The Brothers were wrapped in towels.  Collected their badges.  And were whisked home never to return to Clarke’s Pool again.

And one could ask, after the passage of 40+ years:

1) What made you think of this story today?

2) Why is this story relevant today?

3) Why did you keep these momentos of this wonderful experience?

And one would answer:

Absolutely no idea.

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