If it were not for living in the Netherlands, probably I would never have linked swimming with talking. My friends always told me the Dutch like talking, but I was not convinced until I went swimming.
I learnt to swim in China, following the typical course step by step. We have to wear a swimming cap, swimming goggles, and some people even need a nose clip. No entry without a swimming cap in most natatoriums. Most people learn to swim as a hobby or for exercise, and some may aim for skill or speed as well. It's totally different for the Dutch people I have seen, who do not need swimming caps or glasses, as they always keep their heads above the water. Two or more friends swim in a row, chatting and laughing.
I always have a swim as a form of exercise, set a target first and try to accomplish it, then go back with a strong sense of achievement, but usually feel tired. I guess most Chinese are the same, and to relax we usually chat when we are having a rest. It would surely be much easier if we did not take swimming so seriously, but just saw it as a form of relaxation. How efficiently the Dutch swim, actually! Now I am learning to swim the 'Dutch way', and perhaps one day I too will be able to talk as I swim.
Wenling Liu, PhD Environmental Policy Group