40 – Last one back gets eaten.

Shark - kongwa2london.comMy school friends and I used to go swimming at English Point. This was a swimming club consisting of changing rooms and a pontoon moored about a hundred yards from the beach.

In the trees behind the changing rooms, was a troop of monkeys. These little monkeys would swing down and steal anything; you had to keep an eye on your clothes as your return journey could be embarrassing.

We would cycle to the other side of town, cross the Nyali Bridge and turn right along the coast. The club was directly opposite the Old Port where the Arab dhows would dock.

Once changed into our swimsuits, the motley gang would swim out to the pontoon, which was about eight feet by eight feet. We would climb upon it and dive off the side. Our activities in the water around the platform subsided as we watched the boats pass between the Old Port and us.

We knew that sharks followed the boats in, as food waste was often thrown overboard and it dawned on us that we would have to swim back to the shore in the very same waters. No one wanted to be the first to dive in and we delayed our return swim as long as possible.

Eventually someone would shout, “last one back gets eaten” then we would all dive in and hope that if there were a shark, it wouldn’t grab me. This was a good incentive to become a strong swimmer.

On a family outing to Nyali Beach, just a few miles up the coast, I went snorkelling by the reef. While watching the brightly coloured fish bobbing around the coral, I glanced down and to my horror, just a few feet below me was a shark. I poked my head above the surface and was shocked to see that I was some 200 or so yards from the shore. I believe a world swimming record was set by the time I hit the beach. Who needs to see the movie ‘Jaws’ to be too scared to go back into the water?

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