Look back in time: When learning to swim in Falmouth was only for the hardy

This is The West Country: Look back in time: When learning to swim in Falmouth was only for the hardy Look back in time: When learning to swim in Falmouth was only for the hardy

Falmouth doesn’t do so badly nowadays for heated indoor swimming pools. Sixty-odd years ago, though, the nearest such facility was over 100 miles away, in Torquay, writes Mike Truscott.

One of the first campaigns to change all that was launched in the Falmouth Grammar School 1946 magazine.

“The real solution,” it argued, “is for Falmouth to provide (as all important seaside resorts do) a heated swimming bath, available throughout the year.”

The school’s swimming lessons and sports days had to take place in the open sea at Sunny Cove, just beyond Swanpool Beach. (Can you imagine that now!) Reflecting on another poor summer, the unsigned article touchingly observed: “A stranger might be pardoned for wondering why weather should prevent healthy boys bathing in the July seas of the Cornish Riviera.

“To answer this, we can only call to mind a scene all too frequent this summer: a so-called healthy boy stands waist-deep in the calm water, having been at last induced there by persuasion and the taunts of his sturdier companions.

“Agony is inscribed on his pallid features. His breath comes in short gasps; the visible part of his skin is of a faintly blueish tinge.

“To teach him to swim is going to be about as difficult as to teach one tortured on the rack to appreciate the beauties of literature. To get such pupils used to the feel of cold water took up time which might have been devoted to swimming practice.

“It would seem that several boys do not take the trouble to keep really fit; also, perhaps, that the food shortage has caused lower resistance to cold.”

So think of these poor souls next time you plunge into the warmth of Ships & Castles!

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