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AquaSkipperUK Ltd.

Skipping along...

07 March 2007

So, imagine. You're in a bit too deep for your own good, can't back out now, and there's an audience. A large audience, all with school uniforms on. And more intimidatingly, they're all pressed up against the window, so you feel like you're in a zoo.If there was ever a feeding time for BounceFree, this was it.

The kind staff at Cefn Hengoed Leisure Centre, not far from the Swansea centre, agreed to support my efforts at mastering the AquaSkipper and gave me a couple of hours in their pool today. This was session 2. I've really got to make some ground.

Wayne, Ash and Mark the lifeguards were on hand to have a giggle at me as time and time again I splashed headfirst into the water, having managed a measily pump or two before the AquaSkipper, which doesn't have a name yet, sunk. After half an hour or launching and sinking, then climbing out of the water and doing the same again, I was getting tired. 'Why don't you guys have a go? It would be good for me to see this thing from a different perspective,' I said to them. So they went to get changed and I stood on the side for a while, frustrated at my inability to understand what it was that I needed to do. I was well into my second hour of my career as an AquaSkipper rider, and had made little progress from my first launch. I couldn't work out what I was doing wrong, how I needed to coordinate my body after a good launch. There was barely time for me to repeat my name when I was stood on the thing, how was I supposed to learn this?

The lifeguards took it in turns to have a go. From the off Wayne looked the best. After twenty minutes or so he was bobbing along four or five times, slowly descending into the water but finding the rhythym nevertheless. 'Oh dear,' I thought to myself, 'I've come in here with world record training on my lips but this chap is better than me already.' I am more than overly competitive, if my cat beat me down the stairs I'd have a sulk, and it niggled at me a little bit that I wasn't progressing as fast as lifeguard Wayne. It wasn't his fault! His success just highlighted my weakness. I had two choices. Give up, or sort it out.

So I opted to sort it out. Each time Wayne hopped over the water like a sprightly little lamb, I studied his technique. He was travelling no more than 10 metres but in that distance he bounced up and down at least 9 or 10 times. He looked like he was riding a horse. That’s it! I had been concentrating so much on trying to find the right combination of movement between my legs and my arms that I’d completely neglected one option. When the legs pump, push with the arms at the same time. The whole body moving as one, pushing down to create the forward motion with the hydrofoils and then using the inertia to take some weight off, allowing the AquaSkipper to rise up for the next pump. The necessity of a good fast launch was already obvious, so let’s try it. Andrew from the office came in, a tall well spoken man who had been incredibly helpful with my request to use the pool, as had Kierann the pool manager. ‘Time to wrap up guys, we’ve got a training session in here soon,’ Andrew said. Thumbs up all round. I better get my skates on and do this thing quickly, otherwise I’m going home depressed, I thought.

I stepped up, wrapping my toes around the poolside ready to give a good lateral push. Deep breaths, come on Dave. Left foot up, lean out with a hard push off the side. The AquaSkipper rose high in the water, probably higher than I’d managed ever before, and I started to bounce, quick flighty movements up and down up and down. I’m bloody moving! Look at this! Then, 7 or 8 metres down I realised the excitement had gotten the better of me and I’d neglected to direct the ‘Skipper. The left side of the pool approached and I disembarked before I got too close. Under the water I screamed with delight. Such a small thing, but I’m ready for a challenge again and I really feel like this could be the next one.

Wayne had another bounce, heading towards the halfway mark and falling off backwards. Ash had a go and almost hit his head on the side of the pool because he didn’t push off at all! My turn again, please don’t let the last one be a one hit wonder. It wasn’t, hard push off, high up again, bounce bounce bounce bouncing free. Over halfway, into the shallow end. And then as the opposite side of the pool came close (I’d forgotten to steer again) I fell off sideways, delighted. Thank god for that, YES!

One last go, this time launching from the shallow end, which by the way was closer than the other end now. Halfway again. Got it. You beauty. We’ll be back next Tuesday, the ‘Skipper and I. See you then.