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We were told to show up in the pool hall for lifesaving practice, dressed in our hooded jogging suits over T-shirt and shorts, with socks and clean canvas shoes. We should also bring a rainsuit.

It was really interesting to learn the basics of handling an unconscious casualty and resucitation on poolside. Lifesaving clearly is a contact sport, involving lots of laughs and giggles.

Near the end of that part I was getting a bit hot, sweating in my dry jogging suit. Now I know why it is also called a sweatsuit. I was hoping to get into the water soon.

Rope Rescue

Next, Alex volunteered me as a casualty for his rope rescue demonstration: "Tim, please go into the pool, swim to a 10 meter distance, and turn towards me."

"Shall I keep my jogging suit on for this, or take it off?" I asked with rising excitement.

"Always keep your clothes on during training," Alex explained. "You or your casualty may not have the time to change into swimbriefs before something happens. That's why we train fully clothed."

So I jumped in with all my kit on and swam to the given position. I turned around, put my hood up and waited.

Alex threw me one end of the rope and asked me to hold on. Then he pulled me in quickly. What a rush with the water just flushing through my clothes at this speed!

Next it was time for the others to try it. Alex asked me to swim out one more time to be rescued.

Whoever completed a successful rescue had to jump in and be rescued by the next one. It was fun to watch them jump in one by one in their jogging suits. After a while everybody was in the pool.

Rescue Tows

We spend about an hour learning different rescue tows. The extended arm tow was the easiest, the close contact tows much harder, but good fun.

Swimming in a hoodie is quite a challenge as the hood fills up with water and flops about. We were told to put the hood up and tie the cord. This made rescue swimming a bit easier.

Swimming in Anoraks

Finally we swapped the hoodies for anoraks and rain pants to see what difference that would make. This was all new to me. Anoraks are easier to swim in than hoodies. They don't soak up much water, but the wide sleeves fill up quickly. As before we were told to put the hoods up.

It was interesting to note that nylon fabrics slide easily on each other. When doing the chin tow or double shoulder tow, the casualty kept sliding up and down with each swim stroke.

We enjoyed this practice for a good while, swapping partners often. This was a great way to to know each other.

At the end we just splashed around for a while and talked about what we've learned before we headed for the showers to rinse our clothes.

Great training.