Setting: The beach at or near Dee Why, New South Wales, Australia. Year: Late 1965 or early 1966. I’m five, I think, and we recently emigrated here from the Netherlands.
This is my first day at the beach. I go in the water with my father. He holds my hand. When the surf attacks and covers my feet up to my ankles, I’m ready to go back to safety, but he holds me and we go deeper until the water is up to my waist. Never, in my entire life, have I ever been this scared. I scream and scream!
We go back to shore–so far away–and over the next couple of hours I take it at my own pace, in this quieter water away from the surf. See, I’m in the water up to my waist! Nobody can tell that I’m on my knees and that the water is about a foot deep. And anyway, that’s still really, really deep.
I feel so brave and proud and swimming. Oh yeah, this is me and I’m totally swimming!