‘Bombing’ at the baths

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DO you still have those swimming certificates you worked so hard for while you were still at school?

Swimming a length for the first time, what a day that was. I still have my certificate to prove it, carefully glued on to what was once a cornflake packet.

Much later my colleagues and I had more advanced swimming lessons at Police Training College. One day it was decided we would be taught life saving skills in the event we ever had to jump in the canal to help someone.

The instructor told us: ‘Next week bring a change of clothes you will wear for the practice.None of this wearing of pyjamas like you did at school”.

The day arrived and to get off to a bright start four of the lads were chucked in the deep end as they walked through the door.

Fortunately we could all swim but we were still wearing out Friday night out clothes. That certainly put a damper on our night out for later.

These three swimmers in the picture (right) who are taking part in life saving practice at the old Brighouse swimming baths 25 years ago this week will have found it hard work. But to progress it had to be something that was made enjoyable by the teacher.

It’s still a sad sight driving past the old baths and until a buyer comes along they are looking more decrepit as the weeks go by. Most Brighouse people will have many happy memories of being taken as children to the swimming club or to swimming lessons. How many can remember being taught to swim by Mrs Oates or Mrs Ransome, just two of the regular swimming teachers at Brighouse.

I am sure it was as exciting for them to see you gradually gaining the confidence to take your feet off the bath floor and manage to get across from one side to the other as it was for you and your watching parents.

I am sure all the lads who went to the swimming baths on Saturdays will remember Raymond Forrester. He was one of the attendants who told you when it was time to get out of the pool. He seemed to have worked there longer than most people could remember.

A favourite – but not condoned practice – was to try and soak him by ‘bombing’ him as he walked along the bath side. Raymond generally had the last word – usually by telling your dad what you had been up to.

Just now and then I would wonder if Raymond could swim, but then again he probably didn’t need to because of the avilability of that very long pole for you to grab hold of just in case.

If these childen in our featured photograph this week are aged betwen eight and 10 they are now likely to be between 30 and 35 and could now be watching their own children learning the skills of swimming.