The story so far: Willem-Jan is busy getting his life in order. Having visited his study advisor, he has now been persuaded by Vera to join her for some exercise.
Bzzz, Bzzz, Bzzz. Willem-Jan’s alarm clock had been ringing for 15 minutes. Why, he thought, did I promise to go with her early in the morning? At that, the door fl ew open and Vera appeared. ‘Come on, get up. Grab your swimming trunks, we’re leaving in two minutes.’ In a flash, she was gone again.
After a few problems getting going, they were standing under the showers at the Bongerd. Vera was explaining her swimming programme to Willem- Jan and looking at him encouragingly. ‘You did bring your goggles, didn’t you?’ she asked. ‘Veer, I’ve only just opened my eyes, do you mind if I wake up first?’ he said.
‘You’ll wake up while you’re swimming. You do want to lose those kilos of student fat, don’t you?’ Vera prodded Willem-Jan’s beer belly and pushed him playfully in the direction of the swimming pool.
Even at that time of the morning, it was busy in the pool. As well as students, elderly men and women were swimming lengths. At the Bongerd, the four lanes nearest the showers are always reserved for slow swimmers. On the other side are the fast lanes. ‘Hey, look at that man there on the side of the pool. Trunks like those pulled up over a fat stomach is not a good look,’ sniggered Willem-Jan. ‘But I bet he enjoyed his time as a student way back when.’
Vera glared at him. In her opinion, you just didn’t say things like that. It was impressive enough that he was taking exercise in his twilight years.
‘And he’s got a swim ring. As if his stomach isn’t buoyant enough!’ T
Their half-hour swim was almost over. Vera did a stint of back stroke in the last fi ve minutes, while Willem-Jan stuck to what he had learned at school. He found front crawl tiring enough and despite his repeated urging, Vera didn’t want to cut their session short and go to the sauna.
This feels good, another four lengths to go, thought Vera meanwhile. But without noticing it, she had started to drift across her lane. With a bump, she collided with the man wearing the swim ring. At once he started thrashing wildly in the water, inadvertently pushing Vera beneath the surface. Now the swim ring was bobbing in the water and the old man watched despairingly as it fl oated away. Vera surfaced, spluttering.
‘Sorry sir, I didn’t realize. Are you alright?’ She quickly grabbed the fl oat and gave it back.
‘Watch where you are going, young lady!’ the man snapped angrily when he had recovered.
Vera beat a hasty retreat. ‘Come on Willem-Jan, let’s go to the sauna,’ said a beetroot-red Vera from the side of the pool. Laughing, Willem-Jan was only too happy to oblige.