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Date added: 01 August 2006

Waterskiing - a SwindonWeb Adventure 

Nothing to do in Swindon? Think again!

In this the first part of a series of SwindonWeb adventures we've been out and about finding things to do that are just a little more exciting than the usual.

Things that are a: not neccessarily the type of fun activity you may associate with our lovely home town and b: something which we can film some humiliating video of someone trying out.
 
Part One: Waterskiing
with our brave man on a mission, Leigh Debbage
 
As a general rule, water and I do not get along.

If you look up the phrase 'Fish out of water', you'll find somewhere close to it the phrase 'Leigh in water'.

It's a relationship of mutual hatred that started when I was about five when I smashed my front teeth out at a swimming pool.
Since then I've done my utmost to keep my distance from the wet stuff.
 


A doctor's note kept me out of my weekly school swimming lessons at Milton Road - apparently I had a chlorine allergy, although I think it was just my body's way of reinforcing my principles.

I'll make my excuses on holidays and only bath if absolutely necessary.

In short, I'm a land mammal - I even refuse to eat fish because I don't trust its origins.

So when my bosses at SwindonWeb Towers asked me if I would try out waterskiing for a 'special' feature they had in mind, I naturally leapt at the chance!
 

On a thankfully warm Wednesday afternoon I was packed into a SwindonWeb Mini and escorted to Craig Cahoon Waterski School in Fairford for a half an hour lesson.

To say I was apprehensive would be akin to saying Mel Gibson likes a drink.

But putting on my life jacket on I felt I was ready to take on the water and, armed with some sleek water-skis, really show those dastardly waves who was boss. 
 

So as I approached the instructor you can imagine how my new wave of optimism was swept away when a lady returning from the lake said in a strangely portentous tone, "Good luck!"

Good luck?!! Was it that she could smell my fear or did she just know something I didn't? After all, how difficult can it actually be to stand still whilst being towed along by a boat?

The answer, as I'd soon find out and as the rather humiliating video finely illustrates, was pretty darned difficult.

As my patient (and slightly comical) Dutch instructor Jamie talked me through the basic principles of rising from a bunched up sitting position, the early signs were not good.

If I was struggling to find my feet on dry land, how would I fare on water, being towed along at around 30 kilometres per hour?
 

Thankfully I wasn't tossed straight off the boat and thrown a length of rope to cling onto. The training consisted of clutching a metal bar attached to the boat to practice standing up and sitting down again.
... and lows!:

Folding my knees right up to my head and keeping my arms dead straight (not a position I assume every day) I had to roll up onto my feet and keep my balance while the waves did their best to stop me.
 
Let's just say I picked it up about as convincingly as those grabber claws pick up cuddly toys.

But after about ten attempts and having scared every fish out of the lake, we decided it was time I graduated to the rope (I say we, I don't remember having too much say in the matter!)

At this stage I seemed so used to plunging into the water that I'd all but overcome my fear and found a new confidence.
 

Standing up on the end of the rope however, with the speed boat churning up the waves some twenty yards in front of me, was a different matter entirely.

But somehow, I mustered up enough strength and balance to rise to my feet, albeit for about ten seconds, before an almighty splash!

Even in the short time I was in the water, I went from an inept fool to being able to waterski standing up for at least a minute (I promise the video doesn't capture my best attempt!)

I emerged from the water elated. Whilst under no illusions I would ever be a water sports pro, I had taken on the waves with my head held high.
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