‘The Swim Team’ by Miranda July

A woman recounts a time when she gave swimming lessons to three elderly people in Belvedere. Since there are no bodies of water and no pools in Belvedere, she trained them in her flat, using bowls of water to practise breathing underwater, and jumping from the chair onto the bed to practise diving. It’s painfully funny, as you would expect from Miranda July. And yet beneath the mad, slapstick energy is a depth and sadness – I think it is that contrast which explains why I can come back to this story again and again and still find it so funny.

First published in Harper’s, 2007, and available for subscribers to read online here. Collected in No One Belongs Here More Than You, Canongate, 2007

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