Is that a wart on your foot or do you have six toes? (Iain)

My school had three rules for swimming:

  1. No dive bombing!
  2. No kit, no swim!
  3. No verrucas!

If you don’t know what a verruca is, then it’s a wart on your foot. It’s commonly caught off someone else who has one.

To prevent the spread of verrucas swimming pools had a small hole in the ground at the changing room exit. The hole would commonly be filed with a red chlorine like liquid.

On exiting I had to put both feet into the wee pool of red (normally freezing cold) liquid. The liquid supposedly contained disinfectant that protects feet from catching a verruca.

I got a verruca. Andrew got a verruca. In fact most of my school got a verruca.

It put me off going swimming. I didn’t like the wart! I didn’t like wee red pool of disease! I didn’t like the heavy smell of chlorine in the air! I didn’t like all the people in the pool swimming past or across me! I hated everything about swimming!

It put me off going to public pools. I didn’t swim for 15 years.

I didn’t discover a love of swimming until I joined the Arlington bath club. – the oldest surviving Victorian bathing complex in the world. It doesn’t have a small verruca puddle, it doesn’t stink of chlorine and most importantly it has lane etiquette.

Lane etiquette means once I start swimming in a lane its mine until I’m finished. No-one will jump in to the lane with me. No-one will swim across me and no-one will have a verruca…I hope!

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