Sunday, 29 April 2012

Old School Swimming

Whilst watching '1972' on BBC 2 the other night this came on.  It is an old swimming advert - I love these old adverts. Dave can't swim so the girl goes off with Mike "who swims like a fish!" There were lots of these adverts around at the time - the government were keen for everyone to swim. I don't believe it could have been like today's equivalent of eating your 5 a day and exercising.  I'm not aware there was an obesity epidemic in the 70's.  So it must have been purely for safety.  Many youngsters would swim in any bit of water given half the chance. My husband, who was born in 1964, recalls swimming in the pit cooling towers in Leigh. He was a Y-front swimmer not a speedo man. He couldn't tell his parents what he was doing with his little friends so they used to swim in their underpants.  How dangerous is that! Later he would go swimming with the school at the local 'baths' and they all got changed in wooden single cubicles which had swinging doors. His fondest memories were gaining the oval badges for his swimming prowess and getting them sewn onto his speedos - he had now graduated from the pit cooling towers and his old Y-fronts were consigned to their more conventional use.

One person that didn't swim in his Y-fronts was Mark Spitz who won a massive 7 Gold Medals in the Munich Olympic Games in 1972. Amazing. So no shortage of swimming role models for my husbands generation and as for my generation there was our very own Duncan Goodhew. 

Mark Spitz with all his medals - this isn't my husband's body super imposed with Mark Spitz head although he would like to think it has! - picture from ebay

By coincidence I came across this linky via BritMums Joy of Swimming Competition, sponsored by British Gas asking for people to blog about their earliest childhood memories of swimming.

Well I can remember the excitement of going swimming in the 70's and this may come as no surprise to you all but I just loved frequenting the vending machine afterwards. We always came out "starving" - only coming out when our skin could take no more. You know all wrinkly and cold. A packet of crisps was normally my vending snack of choice. 

As I was born in 1973 I can recall swimming in the 80's more. We used to all go to the local leisure centre with friends on a Saturday for the Crazy Splash - basically a load of inflatables were put in the pool and it was a mass free for all.  I don't suppose they would allow it today, too many health and safety rules. There was also an outside paddling pool which you could run out to in the summer. Although the transition from pool to outside was mighty fresh. And who can forget the swimming rules sign? No petting always got a chuckle.

This has to be the best thing about swimming in the 70's/80's - I mean we all read it. Who needs Saatchi & Saatchi?!

Swimming lessons are the only after school club I drive my children to. I really want my children to not only be able to learn to swim but to swim with the proper techniques. Not like me and my husband who swim with the turtle neck thing going on.  I would love to swim properly one day and it is on my bucket list but in the meantime, I'm going to hand over the swimming baton to my children and hope that they too have as many wonderful memories.


  1. I cant swim this week miss, I have my period, again, and the dog ate my cossie. And I lost my verruca sock. x

  2. Our secondary school was so shite (4th worst in West Sussex) we didn't even have swimming lessons so no excuses needed - but those are pure gold! x

  3. Ohh I am a turtle neck swimmer too! lol

    We still have a fun splash round here on a sat and sun with all the inflatables, super fun.

    I need to start my girls swimming soon but I am just not sure where the pennies will come from! Mich x

  4. Hi Mich - oh I'm so pleased they still do it! Yep its another expense but out of all the clubs I think its the most important. We have been going since Reception - I moved my son after a year from the council run one as it wasn't much good. Now they go to a club where the instructors are in the water and at the side. My eldest is currently doing sitting dives - so proud! x

  5. Ha ha I remember those signs!

    1. Great weren't they - I think they should bring them back! x

  6. Oh my, I remember Mark Spitz! I'm a 70s gal too!

  7. Amazing achievement wasn't it and welcome back to the 1970's! x

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