When the coach first said let's go for "kanchusuiye" I thought it was a Chinese dish. It sounded like a good idea so I raised my eyebrows in interest. All the boys in swim class went "WOAH" which made me realize we weren't going for a noodle dish. Coach translated it rather literally saying something like "cold middle swim". It was then I realized that I'd volunteered to do something I'd never thought I'd ever do- SWIM IN COLD WATER. Now, Mom, Dad and Frere all know my aversion to chilly H2O. I don't even like ice in my beverage, yet here I was to go galloping off with the boys again (I never outgrew the tomboy stage) scantily clad ready to immerse myself in the icy, murky depths of the Takatsu River.
I never once committed fully to the idea giving the boys a "maybe" every time they asked if I'd really do it, but Koji seemed pretty sure he wanted to shrink his important bits to the size of a string bean.
Then! I thought I'd found a great excuse when my camera packed it in a few days before and I bought a new one. AHA!! I can't co swimming AND take photos and I really must try out the new apparatus, I claimed.
Despite all logic I use in my day-to-day life, occasionally pride gets in the way. I HAD said I'd do it, after all. So the day came and I donned my swimsuit and put on heaps of clothes over it and off we went. There they were warming up… all these tough guys from the iron man club, and me from the Chicken Club. They ran. I ran. They stretched. I stretched. They started to strip down. I took photos. And then it happened… something possessed and I too began stripping down in apparent exposition that I too was going in.
The one other woman there seemed relieved.
"Okay, let's do it" barked the leader and off we went scampering barefoot toward the 5 degree waters. In they went and I just froze at their screams… then I forced myself in to the knees. I felt them not tingle, but ACHE! So off I went scampering for the shore to grab the camera and take photos all the whilst scampering around barefoot in a swimsuit. I captured the boys as they scrambled out about 1- 2 minutes later (a 100 meter course was set- this was no quick in and out deal). They were RED and in pain. They weren't all out when I handed the camera to a bystander and just leaped for it. I don't know how long I was in but it took approximately the time to submerge a few feet, come up, SCREAM a bloodcurdling scream and swim to the rocks. I reckon about 10 seconds if I exaggerate.
But I did do it! and true to Japanese fashion, this was no haphazard event. They had hot food on the campstove and a TUB full of hot water on the back of a pickup! I've never seen men so willingly share a tub before, but here they were hopping in 2 at a time, shivering, hooting and hollering all the way. No complaints from me! I got to hop in with the cute guy from my swimming class (the OTHER ONE besides Koji!).
We wrapped up in large towels grabbed a steaming bowl of soup and tried to navigate it to our mouths. You should try this some time…. bring food to your mouth ON CHOPSTICKS while shivering convulsively… it's GREAT entertainment!
After the excitement settled, we were changed, dry and ready to go home I said what you might expect a big chicken like me to say,
"Next year I'll actually swim a little!"