The first swim

In my last blog about the Lido, I was exalting the joys of swimming regardless of what you look like and being your own mermaid, which got some very lovely responses from people and I hope encouraged some of them to go out and have a swim.

I also managed to get out and have some swims with some good friends of mine, one of them being Charley Genever who is the present Peterborough poet laureate and also Samantha Hope who is a craft legend. This was during the week where it felt like summer and I really enjoyed sharing their first swim with them and that is what inspired the following poem.  They also wore my spare pair of goggles and my plan is if people come for a swim with me then they will get to do the same.


I love to hear the first shouts and gasps of people when they enter the water and then their steely determination to get through it and then suddenly they are swimming, plunging under the water and even encouraging others to get in as well.  My first swim in the  Lido  of the season is like being reborn, as Jack comments who is the supervisor at the Lido, ‘its like cleansing your soul’ and I have been waiting for it since October, the relief of that first swim  reminds me of long nights, kisses in long grass, new potatoes and short sleeves.

I think myself and the regulars who wait every year for the Lido to open, feel a bit like Persephone, reborn out of Hades and now blooming. Waiting for the Lido to dust off the shroud of Winter. Here is a short poem to describe that feeling. Oh and Happy Solstice! a big cheer to whatever makes your Summer swing.


Fade in time.


The last frosts of winter disappear in the fresh blue.

As I bimble down the teal steps into this other bliss.

My feet touch the temperature that was foretold at the kiosk desk.  

Sapphire water swamps my gasps.


The liberty of the first swim fills me with a hullabaloo.

Buzzy kingfisher feelings drown out the freezing kiss.

I cover my chest as I plunge in, to stop rude bits sticking out on end.

Hands release into liquid diamonds.


My knees power my joints pushing me into & through.

I show off by somersaulting and performing the splits.

The lack of gravity swallows my aches & being light is a god send.

The pool thankfully drinks me in whole.


I am a Lilly of the valley that is no longer out of view.

Returning to happiness and the Midsummer’s glitz.

Each lap I am swimming in the sky of no clouds, floating end to end.

I am getting nearer to Phoebe’s heat.


Pushing with each stroke into the hot, hopeful new.

The prison of shortened days is a whisper & adrift.

Swims submerge the counted days, pulling me atop of the ascend.

Plunging into breathless watery folklore.


In the water, I mouth that this is too good to be true.

Adam’s ale floods my throat & I cough out his gift.

I am Persephone freed from the grief of dead leaves in the timely descend.

Refusing to be believe that there will ever be a last swim.


By Keely Mills
June 20th 2016




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