If you have ever swum Club Night in a town pool, at night-time, in North Queensland in Summer, you will know the perils that one faces at the beginning and end of each race.
It’s not your goggles slipping during a dive and ending up round your chin, or neck, or worse, hanging up half on one eyeball.
It’s not over doing the deepness of your entrance and having to swim 50m straight up, just to get to the surface and begin.
It’s not diving too vertical and coming up back at the blocks.
It’s not over arching in your push-off in backstroke, and ending up near breaking your neck.
It’s not dreading the “Get Set” because there’s stupid boys ready for the next race standing behind you at your lane. Stupid Boys.
And it’s not smashing your tender knuckles, already grated raw from a zig zagged backstroke lap, onto the wall at the finish. (Could have sworn I had two more strokes left.)
It’s the beetles.
Out they come by the thousands to land, paddle and try not to die at both ends of the town pool.
Any swimmer instantly becomes a floating refuge to these insect castaways and they will move little tiny heavens and earths, to try and reach high ground.
I’ve had them under my cap. UNDER.
How is that even possible?
Worse is down the togs.
We didn’t have any of these fancy tight swimming/training togs growing up. We mostly had “you’ll grow into them” togs.*
Recipe for a bodice full of beetles.
Now if you’ve ever picked up a beetle, particularly a NQ beetle. You will know that they are not delicate like a butterfly, or gentle like a, well a fly I guess. They’re gross I know, but gently gross.
Beetles hurt. On the end of each of their 6 beetley, yes beetely legs, is a teeny talon. This talon is undoubtedly handy for climbing trees, walls, and human flesh.
A Christmas beetle once drew blood on my finger. True story. I still love them though. Santa’s little spies.
This is why Summer time Club night used to make me slightly anxious. If you were in the second or 3rd heat you were laughing, but if there was time for the water to settle before your race.
Well, you’d better hope your swimming breast stroke. A stroke which I think was invented purely to scoop yourself a path through mass beetle drownings.**
By far the worst outcome, was a beetle to the mouth. And yeah, I know what their acidic, hard-shelled little bodies taste like. I never chewed one. But I know that I did inadvertently ingest some smaller ones, once or twice in my childhood swimming career.
As we head into Summer and I stand timekeeping at my girls club nights, I get a bit of a giggle out of the look on their faces as they touch that end wall and see their 6 legged friends floating around them.
I also get very happy when I look about and see little girls and boys madly rescuing as many as they can. Which was always my main concern too.
Second to getting them stuck in my teeth.
*I know Mum, we did have nice togs too. Pretty sure beetles still got in those as well.
**Our buddies the flying ants should also get a mention here. There’s been many a flying ant in my swimwear.