"Screw Kick!"

Share your memories and stories from the Hertford Christ's Hospital School, which closed in 1985, when the two schools integrated to the Horsham site....

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Angela Woodford
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"Screw Kick!"

Post by Angela Woodford » Mon Jul 16, 2007 8:23 am

A few years ago, I decided to do a Swimming Stroke Improvers course.

It had been a very long time since I had done a length of a pool and been allowed to sew a white stripe onto the back of my costume. I had tried and tried to perfect a graceful breast stroke as Nellie Norman stood in assessment mode on that pool bridge (which was covered in a strange raspy surface) to pronounce

"(Nellie voice) Dot bad, dot-bad dot-bad AngelaBarsh! But you have a Screw Kick.."

And standinding on one leg on the bridge, she had demonstrated the stroke with the other arm and leg as I crossly stood, marvelling at her balance, in the shallow end. She did award me the stripe eventually - hooray!

I've never heard that expression "screw kick" since. In fact the lycra-clad Goddess of Swimming at the Improvers Course said I had a nice "social stroke" but it seemed that modern breast stroke was now very different to the Nellie version. Faster! More streamlined! Yes!

I can't remember if our swimming stripes were all white tape - do I remember an orange stripe too? As you sewed them on, they formed a cross, then a box, or an "H"? Those girls who had got all those stripes early on had costumes on which the stripes were faded and boggled - the pool chlorine never got rinsed out.

There was also a funny expression "Lot Baths" which I think was an extra House swimming session you could ask to be put down for, when a Senior walked the length of the dining table with a Lot Baths notebook.

I was rather put off swimming in that pool for a while. We'd had a swimming lesson which was interrupted by the shrill "peep!" of Nellie's whistle. We stood up , trod water or clung to the side. Nellie's face was impassive and her voice matter-of-a-fact.

"We have had the pool water analysed" she announced " and I'm afraid dap-dap-dap, that girls have been spending a penny in the pool!"

In true Nellie style she repeated it twice more, pointing out the poolside loo in case anyone had never noticed it. It was a bit agonising. It occurred to me that I was possibly swimming in recycled CH tea. During the rest of the lesson two of us pointedly got out and went in that loo to indicate that they were not the guilty party...

I'm grateful to Nellie for patiently teaching us life-saving, taking it in turns to be rescued, up and down holding each other's heads by the ears. I've still never rescued anyone, but I'm prepared!

Screw Kick!

Munch
"Baldrick, you wouldn't recognise a cunning plan if it painted itself purple, and danced naked on top of a harpsichord singing "Cunning plans are here again.""

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Post by englishangel » Mon Jul 16, 2007 8:45 am

Amanda McIlwain was the champion of the screw kick. She had one of the smoothest freestyle strokes I have ever seen but she could NOT co-ordinate her legs for the breast stroke.

I think many breastrokers now do a freestyle kick anyway.
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Post by Katharine » Mon Jul 16, 2007 9:59 am

I had hoped that the 'Screw Kick' was an invention of MKP (Miss Park) our elderly games mistress and that it had died after she left. It obviously didn't.

I never had more than a white stripe, narrow ordinary tape. The orange stripes were made of quite different stuff. Normal progression was stripe for breast stroke, cross for back stroke, H for front crawl and box for life saving. It always annoyed me that I wasn't allowed to do anything else until I had got my stripe (ie never). I was a lot safer in the water than many others who did not have a screw kick.

One year I won a breast stroke race which really disconcerted MKP, they did not know whether to disqualify me or not as I did not have my stripe and thus obviously could not swim the stroke.

Still feeling disgruntled (does anyone ever feel gruntled?)
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Re: "Screw Kick!"

Post by cj » Mon Jul 16, 2007 10:01 am

Angela Woodford wrote:I can't remember if our swimming stripes were all white tape - do I remember an orange stripe too? As you sewed them on, they formed a cross, then a box, or an "H"? Those girls who had got all those stripes early on had costumes on which the stripes were faded and boggled - the pool chlorine never got rinsed out.

There was also a funny expression "Lot Baths" which I think was an extra House swimming session you could ask to be put down for, when a Senior walked the length of the dining table with a Lot Baths notebook.Munch
I was 'rescued' during a swimming competition. I was instructed to float face down in the water until someone got to me. It seemed a very long time holding your breath pretending to be nearly dead until I was dragged out! The white and red stripe systems were still in operation 20 years later, as were the Lot Baths sessions. I think that you weren't allowed to go to Lot Baths if you had already had a swimming class that day. Clare Ryan and I were told off by Wizzo for doing that and I remember feeling what a waste of time telling us off for doing something constructive with our free time, especially as no one else had wanted to go. Tsk.
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Post by Euterpe13 » Mon Jul 16, 2007 10:29 am

I know that I had all my stripes ( my Mother taught swimming, amongst other things.. we could all swim almost before we could walk.) but cannot for the life of me remember why I had the orange stripe - anyone know what it was for ? Or was the box for butterfly ( not life saving) and the orange stripe for life-saving ?

I also remember how horrified my Mother was when she heard that we were practising vertical dives into a pool that was barely 6 feet deep - think that she wrote to Dot to complain !

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Unfair!

Post by Angela Woodford » Mon Jul 16, 2007 12:59 pm

Katharine wrote:One year I won a breast stroke race which really disconcerted MKP, they did not know whether to disqualify me or not as I did not have my stripe and thus obviously could not swim the stroke.

Still feeling disgruntled (does anyone ever feel gruntled?)
There's a good word for RR's Word of the Day!

Did you ever get the breast stroke stripe, Katharine?

I don't remember learning butterfly stroke at all. I was amazed at the speed and grace of the Lycra Goddess, as she stroked her way through the water with such style - like some lovely dolphin - maybe one day I will master it....

I agree with Barbara and her mother that it was a miracle nobody was ever injured doing vertical dives into only 6' of water. Judy Evans was an excellent diver, and she was quite tall too.

Remember the wooden slats in the changing cubicles? Coaxing long hair into a white rubber cap? Squeezing every House + blankets onto the edge of the pool for swimming competitions?

Munch
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Re: Unfair!

Post by Katharine » Mon Jul 16, 2007 2:01 pm

Angela Woodford wrote:Did you ever get the breast stroke stripe, Katharine?
NO I was expected to keep on trying at the end of term assessments - gave up couldn't face the indignity of it!!!
Angela Woodford wrote:I don't remember learning butterfly stroke at all. I was amazed at the speed and grace of the Lycra Goddess, as she stroked her way through the water with such style - like some lovely dolphin - maybe one day I will master it....
Don't think it had been invented when MKP learnt to swim, so we didn't learn it! The swimmimg champion in my day was Delphine Palmer, if Delphine means Dolphin she had been well named!
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Post by J.R. » Mon Jul 16, 2007 2:25 pm

I am not going to invade the realms of the girls swimming terminology !
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Post by Vonny » Mon Jul 16, 2007 7:03 pm

I'd forgotten about white stripes. I can vaguely remember an orange stripe as well but I don't think I had one.
Lot baths were usually at the weekends weren't they? And done by houses? :? Can't remember if it was just one house at a time or a couple. I remember Gravvy trying to make me go - I think she got to know who went as your name was ticked off in a book that she used for swimming lessons.
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Post by Vonny » Mon Jul 16, 2007 7:13 pm

And who remembers standards? (Has this been talked about before on here?)
1, 2 or 3 points for the four swimming strokes and the same for all athletics events. The points were all added together and the house withe the most points won. Everyone was expected to get at least one point for smimming & one point for athletics. I don't know if there were penalties if you didn't :? I can remember Gravvy shouting out how many points (if any) you had got for swimming at the end of the lessons when everyone was getting changed.
A non sporty persons nightmare I would have thought :lol:
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Post by midget » Mon Jul 16, 2007 8:17 pm

Thank goodness standards were not inuse while I was at Hertford--I was/am just about the most unsporty person in history. Miss Park taught swimming by ridicule ie "a first former could do better than that". Because of fuel shortages we didn't start swimming until a few years after the war ended. I had never been to a swimming pool because we lived way out in the sticks without a car.
Some years ago, Joe and I decided we should really learn to swim properly, and went to a course for adult beginners held at Mill Hill School. tThe instructor there taught breast stroke putting yoyr face in the water, and just lifting your head to breathe, much more efficient (now that was a popular word at Hertford) than MKP's way.

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Post by Angela Woodford » Tue Jul 17, 2007 3:55 am

That's it Maggie! Taught this modern breast stroke by the Lycra Goddess, I was thrilled to be swimming fast. Certainly a more efficient stroke. Now I need to update my tennis -

"Standards" must have come in after my time Vonny. Athletics had just begun in a minor way - I can just remember a long jump pit being introduced - and a first ever Sports Day, for which Nellie acquired one of those megaphone things. It was faintly nightmarish, hearing that voice tinnily travelling even further. I'm thinking this must have been 1969-ish?

Miss Gravett was very much a junior mistress, small and blonde. It must have been difficult for her working as second to Nellie, poor woman!

Munch
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Post by cj » Tue Jul 17, 2007 8:27 am

Angela Woodford wrote: Miss Gravett was very much a junior mistress, small and blonde. It must have been difficult for her working as second to Nellie, poor woman!

Munch
She made up for it later when she was in charge! She seemed to me to be fierce - but then most of the PE teachers I had come across were. When I was 8, we were made to play hockey in the snow. I remember crying because my hands were so cold and painful. I think it's a bit much at that age - but that wasn't CH so not terribly relevant.
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Post by Vonny » Tue Jul 17, 2007 10:39 am

cj wrote:She made up for it later when she was in charge! She seemed to me to be fierce - but then most of the PE teachers I had come across were.
She seemed fierce to me as well BUT only when she was teaching swimming :lol: I think she liked you if you were good at sports but lost her patience if you weren't that sporty. I found her absolutely fine when she took rounders, athletics, tennis, hockey etc but in the pool she was a dragon (to me!) - I was cr*p at swimming although good at other sports. I remember the times I managed to skip swimming by using the same old excuse and I would be petrified telling her :lol: :lol:
I also remember at the start of one term being told that Miss Clarrycoats would be teaching swimming for that term because Gravvy had had an op - I was ECSTATIC :lol: Miss Clarrycoats was a pushover :lol:
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Post by cj » Tue Jul 17, 2007 3:19 pm

I was not a confident swimmer when I started CH. The way that Miss G taught us was to have us lie on our backs at the side of the pool with heads over the water, then walk along and tip us in by our ankles. Not the most sensitive way of handling the situation, but possibly vindicated by the fact that I didn't drown?
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