An unnatural breath


I could breathe in time,
develop a rhythmic,
pattern of respiration,
inhale – exhale
in balance with my motion,
but I desire to
stretch my lungs.

My chest expands and I immerse.
Chlorine water rushes to surround –
penetrating, while my limbs
propel me across the surface.

Instinct would have me hold
that breath, keep the air,
my oxygen, my possession, inside.
The urge to cling is automatic.

But, I’m aware, alert, attentive,
I effortfully abandon the air,
pursing my lips, cheeks taut,
I force life out of me..


air releases, bubbles emerge,
my lungs empty, and as I recognise
the need to tilt my head sideways,
I’m already at the other side of the pool.

(It was a small hotel pool BTW)


3 thoughts on “An unnatural breath

  1. I never learnt to swim properly (i.e. breathe properly), so I do have the occasional panic attacks in swimming pools when that chlorinated water rushes into my nostrils. You have just given words to my fears!

    • So glad the words meant something to you. I was also overwhelmed by chlorine water as a child – my chest would just tighten. As an adult, I self taught myself, but it’s only the last couple of years I’ve been able to front crawl with my head in the water, and I think the exhilaration just about outweighs the anxiety now..

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