I was reminded of this experience when I saw Australian photographer Narelle Autio’s exhibition Water Hole at the Stills Gallery in Sydney last week. The focus of her images is the underwater world of billabongs, rivers and swimming holes in remote areas of Queensland, the Northern Territory and Western Australia. Her photos are copyright so I can't show them in this post but if you click here you can view her latest show.
Another favourite activity was to see who could swim the furthest underwater without taking a breath. I think about 20 metres was about as far as we could go. In her beautiful book, Swimming Studies, Leanne Shapton writes about doing "lungbusters, fifty metres underwater"!
"We push off at one end and glide, then kick soundlessly through the blue. At the far end we release the air in our lungs, and our bubbles rush up in a muffled crash. As our heads break the surface, the pool echoes with our breathing. The whole process is overseen by the silent sweep of the pace clock swallowing time, rest, and seconds of air before we inhale and slip under again."
One of the drills at my swim-fit sessions at Leichhardt Park Aquatic Centre is to dolphin kick underwater for 25 metres. Unlike Leanne Shapton I never manage to stay under for the distance despite the assistance of flippers but I enjoy the sensation of moving like a sea creature along the pale blue tiles at the bottom of the pool. Other times I submerge into the quiet of the underwater world and delight in the patterns of sunlight that beam down.
And one day I might venture to the other side of the world - not dive beneath the blocks - but to the bottom of the ocean floor to witness one of Jason de Caires Taylor's extraordinary underwater sculptures in the waters off the West Indies island of Grenada or near Cancun, Mexico. Maybe there I might just meet Persephone?