Sink or Swim

I nearly drowned when I was a little girl. One minute I was wading knee deep in a river, the next I’d stepped into a hole and was over my head. I still remember the panic.

Yesterday, as I watched my son swim his last lesson of the year, I realised he doesn’t need them anymore. At 14 he can out-swim me, easily doing 24 freestyle laps of the pool, whilst I’d be struggling to finish one.


I never learned to swim as a child. My parents grew up in the mountains of Northern Italy and when they immigrated to Australia learning to swim was probably the last thing on their minds. It didn’t stop them from taking us on day trips though, to the beach, to lakes and rivers. We had some memorable times. Especially the day when I went under the water, and nearly didn’t come back up!

We were at Paradise Valley playing in the water. I remember watching the others swimming and then suddenly I went under. I remember thrashing about, the terror. It seemed to last an eternity but it was probably only seconds. Fortunately my brother was nearby. We never told our parents!

Growing up, school swimming carnivals were a nightmare. I forged signatures, hid in the change rooms, skipped classes, anything to avoid the swimming days. It was only after meeting Doug, who loved to spend time in the water, that I realised it was time I learned how to swim.

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Rock pools along the NSW coast of Australia

Now I love the water, though I’m still wary. And as our kids grew up we made sure they both learnt how to swim.

Australia is blessed with thousands of places to enjoy the water and our travels have taken us to many of them.

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Pristine Lake McKenzie on Fraser Island is a beautiful place to swim
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Floating down the rapids at Eli Creek on Fraser Island – from the river to the sea!

From pristine lakes, meandering rivers, spectacular beaches and rock pools – to not teach my kids how to swim would have been a crime.

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Here we are swimming on Kangaroo Island, where you can drive right onto the sandy beach and wade straight in to the water.
Enjoying the Murray River at Bourkes Bend Camping Ground. Just have to remember to watch out for the holes!

Our next adventure is to the Eyre Peninsula along the South Australian coast. I’m looking forward to more days in and around the water, sunny days on the beach and enjoying time with my family.  This is what Summer time in Australia is all about – relaxing, living life to the full and making the most of every day.

Sink or swim?  Well, I’m happy to say that I survived and I’m still swimming.

26 thoughts on “Sink or Swim

  1. I had a similar experience at the age of 13. I tried to swim to the float my sister was on, but it was to far. I was saved by a man that was at the beach with his kids. I wish I could thank him as an adult for the life I have had since.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I grew up in Scotland, not the warmest place for swimming, so I learnt to swim in an indoor pool. Our dad used to take us to the indoor pool each Sunday morning until we were able to swim.


  3. You can’t imagine how happy i am to read your post. I love oceans and beaches (have been to 11 of them in the US and 2 in Aus this year alone 🙂 ). I have written posts on many of them in my Travel Journals!

    I don’t know swimming either, but that has not been able to stop me from enjoying the fun to a certain extent 🙂


      1. I am chuckling now. The reason being, though it is slightly cold here, i went to a beach – Spring Lake – few days back…now, who would do that!

        I wrote about Spring Lake in May this year.


  4. Eli Creek looks amazing, imagining floating from there to the ocean? I am an island who loves the beach but I cannot. I have waded in the water from a toddler, I wanted to learn as an adult but that never happened. However, I am happy the younger ones in the family learned to swim, you just never know.

    Liked by 1 person

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