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The Art of Drowning: Vimeo

Directed by Diego Maclean. Poem by Billy Collins.

Those who know me know how important to me swimming is to me. I guess I will have got off to a good start as a toddler by spending a few years in Singapore, lots of time at the beach. They say you can’t, but I forgot how to swim. We subsequently lived back in my country of birth, Northern Ireland and, from what I remember the beach at Magilligan Point wasn’t a great place to swim.

When I did re-enter water it was Coleraine Swimming Baths aged seven or so: I leapt in the pool and realised that I no longer knew how to swim. For what seemed an eternity I sunk to the bottom of the deep end, repeatedly bouncing up, unable to shout I gasped for air and returned to the bottom. Eventually the two lifeguards who were engrossed in conversation a few feet away realised I wasn’t arseing around and pulled me out.

At seven there wasn’t too much to flash before my eyes.

I now swim lengths without breath, I swim well, very well. Sometimes though I worry that there still isn’t enough to flash before my eyes and more disturbingly I worry that I have spent a life bouncing off the bottom. The truth is that there is a very fine line between swimming and drowning, a mistimed gulp of water can catch even the most experienced swimmer out. You don’t need me to drag the metaphor out I’m sure.

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