Dipping into Something New { A Swimmer’s Lament }

Sweet Corn Dip 3

“The physiotherapist instructed absolutely no cycling, even the elliptical machines are too much wear on my knee joints,” I lamented to my chiropractor, “It’s into the pool I guess.” Much laughter ensued as Robin ensured me that I was soon going to gain tons of weight due to my lack of exercise and the Life Guards would have to roll me into the pool for my Swim-Fit Class. “Well, I’d be damned if I’m going to let that happen,” I spluttered, “You’ll never find me strapped in a Floatie-Belt bobbing at the deep end of the pool!”

To retain any semblance of dignity, I would have to become..a…a competitive swimmer! That’s the ticket! Of course this would require a “professional” swimsuit, swim cap and goggles as well. At the very least, one could be hopeful that there was less chance of being spotted beneath all that silicone and rubber.

I assure you, nothing is more humbling than trying to wedge a middle-aged, 100+ pounds of tepid colored flesh into a tiny black-bottomed spandex swimsuit whilst laboring under fluorescent spotlights in front of a three-way mirror. I fumbled my way in, stretched and snapped up the shoulder straps and marveled at the genius of being recommended a suit two sizes smaller than my dress size. With all the spare bits tucked firmly into place, the outcome wasn’t as dreadful as I’d imagined, so long as I squinted and peered sideways whilst holding my breath.

The air on deck was humid and warm that first morning, it was as “close” in there as the towel I had gripped tightly around my waist. I timidly peeked first from the locker room to assess the situation, then strode brusquely out as if I had done this sort of thing every day of my life. I tossed the towel and flip-flops nonchalantly aside and you’ll be proud to know I set my first record just getting into the pool. I’d like to get my hands on the perverse architect who decided to install observation windows.

Undaunted and safely hidden under water, I pulled my goggles down, suctioned them firmly in place and thrust off. I struggled and thrashed my way through a length or two before I realized the goggles could be adjusted to reduce the intense pressure on my eyeballs. Whilst twisting and gasping for air, I soon noticed a set of legs on deck that seemed to be keeping pace with me. Evidently the Life Guards had identified me as “the person in the pool most likely to drown”.

Not to be outdone by the sleek-bodied, rhythmic swimmer in my slow lane, I donned flippers and wondered why they couldn’t provide snorkels for those of us less athletically inclined. Then I began gliding like a glistening porpoise through the water, fluttering stridently with arms securely wrapped around a buoyant paddle board. “Now this is more like it!” I thought as I gained speed.

Feeling overly confident, I switched to the backstroke, one that had always been a favorite of mine. I could always see the advantages of laying on one’s back and being able to breathe. Unfortunately, the ceiling struts in the roof were not vertically aligned and I zigged and zagged, unabashedly crashing between wall and lane divider.

At that point I thought it perhaps best to uncomplicate things by just leaving my legs out of it and scull. I arched back with legs pressed tightly together and began trying to invoke my inner yogi while I undulated my arms like fins at my side. “Stay calm,” I thought to myself, “Just relax and be at one with the water.”Β  Regrettably, I’m certain that isn’t at all what the poor woman in the fast lane was thinking as I managed to stroke her thigh with my “fin” as I labored past in the opposite direction.

I’ve got a kink in my neck and any “swimming” genes must have skipped a generation, but I loved it and can’t wait to jump back in tomorrow!

Swimming always does work up an appetite, don’t you think?
{ Lightened up from Emeril Lagasse’s recipe.. I liked this dip but thought it might be amazing with bits of bacon.. but I suppose that would mean an extra lap around the pool… }

Sweet Harissa Corn and Halloumi Dip

Sweet Harissa and Halloumi Dip
  • 1 tbsp unsalted butter
  • Corn kernels (about 4 fresh white/yellow corn cobs)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped red bell pepper
  • 1/4 cup chopped green onion
  • 1 tsp harissa
  • 2 minced garlic cloves
  • 1/2 cup low-fat greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup low-fat mayonnaise
  • 4 ounces halloumi cheese, shredded
  • 4 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
  • Tortilla chips for dipping
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Melt 1 tablespoon of butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Stir in the corn, salt, and pepper. Cook and stir until the kernels turn a light golden brown, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a bowl. Melt the second tablespoon of butter in the same skillet. Add the onions and bell peppers. Cook and stir until the onions are translucent, about 2 more minutes.
  3. Stir in the green onions, harissa and garlic and cook for a further 2 minutes, or until everything is softened. Stir into the corn mixture.
  4. Add the yogurt, mayonnaise, 1/2 of the Halloumi Cheese and half of the cheddar and mix well. Spoon into an 8-inch baking dish. Sprinkle the remaining cheese over top. Bake until bubbly and golden brown, about 10 to 12 minutes.
  5. Serve hot with tortilla chips.


  • I love this! I work in sport education, and most of our students are athletes. We intentionally take them swimming because it requires such a different kind of skill (and level of fitness!) than pretty much any other sport, and most of them flounder like you wouldn’t believe at first… I used to really hate swimming myself but once I got the rhythm and movement properly dialed in, I really enjoy it πŸ™‚ And I think bacon in this dip would be totally worth the extra lap!ReplyCancel

  • Exercise always makes me hungry too!!!ReplyCancel

  • PRICELESS!!!!! Well, maybe you know I used to be a long distance runner, and flirted with the idea of doing a triathlon one day. Except, except, except, I cannot swim to save my life! I am a horrible swimmer and will never understand the “relaxing” aspect of the activity. I am in full fledged panic when I go into a swimming pool, and have been on the receiver side of many dirty looks from real swimmers.

    Ok, now I must go back and read the recipe…. he, he, he…..ReplyCancel

    • Wow.. I didn’t know you were a runner, good on you!! I can’t run and swimming is my only hope, lol, now that I can’t bike. How do they make this look so easy??ReplyCancel

      • Beats me… still, I find the triathlon an amazing feat, even if it’s not the Iron Man, it’s still a lot of fun and very challenging. IN my next life, count me in πŸ˜‰

        (seriously, though, I wish you the best on your recovery. ONe of the reasons I cannot run a marathon anymore is a knee injury, mainly self inflicted from…. well, from being me!) πŸ˜‰ReplyCancel

  • Something about swimming always makes me hungrier than any other activity!! I was so with you all the way in describing your stepping into swimming! I would also get all the gear, hey why not go all into it, right? And then check all around and feel like all eyes are on you!! good for you Barb! Can’t wait to hear more!!ReplyCancel

  • I too am ID’d as the person most likely to drown. Good luck with your new exercise routine. My hubby is swimming three times weekly and has developed some nice new arm muscles.ReplyCancel

  • Oh smidge, I am right there with you! When I did my back awhile ago I had to go use a kick board in a pool to try and recover. No other exercise allowed. But let me put that in context – in Australia – in summer. NO ONE needs a kick board. We can all swim, we’re made to learn. I can swim too, but was so broken at this point that even the life guard came up to me and asked if I wanted some goggles because I must of looked so uncoordinated. Humbling times πŸ™‚ReplyCancel

  • Good for you Barbara, you go girl! When I travelled for work I would always squish my swim suite into my suitcase because it was an easy workout and I didn’t have to waste space for runners!
    That dip sounds great, I’ve got to get out and try it.ReplyCancel

  • Sorry to hear about your knees, Barb. Good on you for braving the pool ! That bit about the pressure of the goggles had me laughing out loud – I think everyone’s experienced that at some point or another.
    As for the haloumi dip – I have never tried haloumi like that before (always pan fried slices of it and love the salty, chewy, almost squeaky texture of it) and it looks delish !ReplyCancel

    • I’ve read about it in a lot of recipes.. it’s definitely a different cheese than I’m used to. I was worried it wouldn’t get “melty” but it did eventually:)ReplyCancel

  • Hope your knees feel better! The dip looks delicious.ReplyCancel

  • I am sure you looked HOT in that bathing suit!! I NEED to get one myself because I want to start swimming more!! I remember swimming a lot as a kid and being FAMISHED after, thankfully my dad always packed snacks for when we were done!ReplyCancel

    • I love you.. seriously, hot wouldn’t be the best adjective though:D You should swim.. you could be a triathlete!!! What fun!!! I wish I’d done that at your age!!ReplyCancel

  • I’m so proud of you!!! Courage and resilience. If you are worried about being sighted – wear sunglasses! Works for me….ReplyCancel

  • A few good laughs this one gave me! πŸ™‚ReplyCancel

  • Oh Barbara, I had good old chuckle with this post. Enjoy that pool time πŸ™‚ReplyCancel

  • Swimming is such a wonderful activity my friend, I’m sure you shall enjoy it πŸ™‚
    And gosh it DOES make everyone hungrier!
    What a delicious dish!

    Choc Chip UruReplyCancel

  • Way to go, Barb! That walk. That long, lonely walk from the locker room to the pool has kept many a potential Olympic athlete from entering the pool and realizing their potential. Not you, however. You did it and you’ve got a little less than 4 years before the World’s athletes converge on Rio. You’ll be there, too, if only you remember you own words, “Be at one with the water.” πŸ™‚ReplyCancel

    • Hahaha.. we should write a joint blog post one day, you’re hilarious! I need one of those robes with the hood..Four years and counting! But I would be lucky to be in the Level Two class at the pool by then:DReplyCancel

  • I used to swim every morning before my little one was born. it is really the best thing one could ever do for one’s body (and mind). you’re soon gonna be a skilled swimmer and, if not, your body will be thankful anyway. lovely dipp!ReplyCancel

  • Haloumi dip sound interesting, that must be so goodReplyCancel

  • Like many of your readers, I used to swim every morning before work. Now I don’t, even though I now have a pool, and I’m so much happier:)ReplyCancel

    • You do have a pool, your very own, but I suspect it’s quite cold there this time of year:D What if one heated it the pool to a high temperature, it might be more tempting then:)ReplyCancel

  • congratulations dear barbara! trust your inner-self and you’re going to love swimming. i used to be a swimmer & a female water-polo player till the early 90’s. now residing in my hellenic island i still practice sea swimming for at least 1 hr almost every day of the year (with the exception of the winter months here, aka dec-mar) and i love it! i am quasi sea-born and i enjoy among other sea beauties that one http://zazaseacow.wordpress.com/2012/06/16/10/ !
    i ‘ll try your mediterranean-flavored dip! appreciated! lov gina! πŸ™‚ReplyCancel

    • Wow, there are so many proficient swimmers out there! How awesome is that, water-polo!! You swim in the sea? Doubly awesome! I’m off to check out your link!ReplyCancel

  • Compared to any other sport I have done, swimming makes me the most hungry. I do not know if it the extra calories spent by me shivering in the water as it is always so cold or the fact I need to really concentrate on rhymic breathing to get me through the laps but I am starving at the end. If this dip was at the other end of the pool I would swim faster to get to the end. Take care of your knees, we only get one set! BAMReplyCancel

    • I know.. what is it?? I think maybe the shivering?? Or those vending machines.. I always got to spend my locker money when I was through for the day. Yes.. the question is, do I have both knees repaired at once, so it’s over with?? xxReplyCancel

      • Barbara, put your surgery off as long as possible if you need knee replacements. Recovery is not exactly a piece of cake. Original equipment is always best. Take care of yourself. ReplyCancel

  • Swimming is good for the whole body – every little muscle get their share! Was school champion in medley – was swimming and swimming and swimming for years – then I stopped … and I have never got the urge back. Just like with my reading. It’s the best exercise you can give yourself and all ages will befit from it – and look at the bodies on all swimmers – magical. You will lose weight and be trimmed. Glad you found something that you enjoy and look forward to do. Sweet Harissa Corn and Halloumi Dip, something completely new for me – but I will put on file … have to use tinned corn. Visit Commander’s Palace when I visited New Orleans – great place.ReplyCancel

    • A champion!! Wow, good for you!! Maybe they just tuckered you right out! Sometimes we don’t want to go back to things we did too much of, eh? I hope I get trimmed but I guess my knees will be better for it. I think tinned corn would work as long as it was drained and patted dry? xxReplyCancel

      • I had a bad fall at work .. 2008 and I hit my knee very bad – it was aching for nearly 2,5 year and suddenly one morning I woke up and no pain. It was visceral ligaments and there is nothing to do then wait for it to heal by itself – didn’t believe them, but they were right. I hope it will work for you with the swimming. I really do. The water makes the movements more soft on our ligaments. ReplyCancel

        • I wish it were so.. I have a knee repair in my not-too-distant future I’m afraid. Just trying to get strong enough for it:) I’m glad yours worked out on its own!ReplyCancel

          • I hope the swimming will do the job for you and that you will get your knee repaired. You’re still young. ReplyCancel

  • That was so funny, Smidge. Swimming really is the greatest leveler – everything is revealed and all is there for everyone to see. And if that’s not bad enough, then you have to wear a cap and goggles. I have new goggles that dig so tightly into my face that when I get out, for the next four hours, I have huge bags under my eyes. This swimming business can really age you. But, like you, it’s the best exercise and good for old joints! I did a squad swim this morning at 6.15 in the fast lane! The lane was full of boof-head blokes and I had a horrible time. Every time I turned my head to take a breath a tidal wave would smack me in the face and choke me. After the lesson I told the instructor I wanted a lane set aside for the mummies! xxReplyCancel

    • Yes.. I had those “rings” around my eyes too, lol! I’m so impressed that you swim, it’s so difficult, just accidentally give those blokes a “whip kick” in the thigh when you go past, that might help:D I hope you get a mummies lane. We have slow, medium and fast.. no man would be caught dead in the slow lane, lol!ReplyCancel

  • Barbara your description of you swimming made me laugh out loud! Brilliant post. And fab recipe.ReplyCancel

  • Good luck with the swimming–and the Halloumi Dip looks deliciousReplyCancel

  • You can do anything you set your mind to! I believe in you πŸ™‚ And great recipe there.ReplyCancel

  • Yes I’m laughing Smidge, but laughing WITH you ! And I’m jealous you can wear fins in the pool, not something we can do here. But you’ll get there, practice and patience my friend !
    And I’m drooling at the dip, just love Harissa, but genius of you to add sweetcorn and haloumi….. look slike I need to do some laps πŸ™‚ReplyCancel

  • Smidge you cracked me up, over and over, with this one! This is a piece of some very colorful, comical, tickle-the-bones writing! I LOVED it, so much it needed three readings! πŸ˜‰ and with each reading, different parts amused me most! (you are one very brave woman to put on a speedo under flourescent lighting with eyes open! No, that would be ME being brave – you on the other hand were probably “designed” for thing!!) And your “other” dip – that’s a winner too! Great great post! Thank you! xxReplyCancel

    • Good god, it is a humiliating experience to try a new sport. Well, I did make it to Seniors level in Elementary School, but I’m a pathetic swimmer to say the least. I got a few tips this morning.. so I’m feeling optimistic:D xxReplyCancel

  • gastrogardener

    I commend you on your courage! I was a competative swimmer years ago, and for while in the not so distant past I competed in long distance open water swims – 1-3 miles… It’s all about efficiency. PM me if you want, there are some good resources to help.

    I agree I am always famished afterwards!ReplyCancel

  • Yum, that dip looks so delicious, sounds like you’ve earned it. Great post! πŸ™‚ReplyCancel

  • “nothing is more humbling than trying to wedge a middle-aged, 100+ pounds of tepid colored flesh into a tiny black-bottomed spandex swimsuit” – I could not help but put myself in that same scenario. If I had to sport a speedo these days I would never be able to exhale as I strolled a faux-confident and pasty white walk of shame to the poolside. If my knees go, and they likely will, I am just going to have to be the fat guy at the bar bragging that at least I dont smoke. This post is so good. I am waiting on the book πŸ™‚ReplyCancel

  • I love it! I too recently tried swimming again and swore I would get right back in after splashing about for what was only a half hour. It has been two months! Oops!
    The soup looks delish!ReplyCancel

  • Sorry to hear about your injury I hope that it gets sorted soon. I enjoyed your swimming story – I am afraid to put my head in the water when I swim as I have never mastered the art of breathing and swimming! πŸ™‚ReplyCancel

    • I’m fine.. I’ve had bad knees my whole life.. they’re just starting to complain now:D I don’t know why.. years of running and aerobics.. maybe that’s what did it;)ReplyCancel

  • Your description is so lively, you really brought it all to life. It made me miss swimming. I haven’t done it for years, but it would be fun again. I’m glad you enjoyed it so much and hope that you continue to do so. H xxxReplyCancel

  • This was hilarious, I love it! I used to love swimming as a kid but I haven’t been back as an adult – I’m not sure whether to be encouraged or put off my this post πŸ˜‰ReplyCancel

  • Hahaha, oh, I know that feeling. The first time I put swimming goggles on I thought my eyeballs were gonna get sucked out of my head. It was a terrible feeling!!

    Love the look of the dip! Did you ever try making your own harissa? I make a version which isn’t quite traditional, but I prefer it to the regular stuff. I use Antillean habanero chillies which are fantastically fragrant which makes for a beautiful aroma and flavour… I posted it on my site some time ago if you wanted to take a look πŸ™‚ReplyCancel

    • You know I never have.. I’m going to take a look at your recipe. Where do you buy those Antillean chillies?? Are they dried, in a jar or fresh?? They sound amazing!ReplyCancel

  • Your knees might be shot, Smidge, but it’s nice to see you hanging on to your sense of humour. I have no room to mock- I cannot ride a bike and I swim even more inefficiently than you. Maybe bread would have fewer calories then corn chips? Just a thought, and almost certainly wrong!ReplyCancel

  • You are hilarious Smidge! This sounds like a delicious recipe, perfect for and “after pool” party.
    Have fun tomorrow πŸ™‚ReplyCancel

  • Oh, this was so funny! Although I’m not a swimmer, and certainly not an athlete, I can relate to your story of struggling into your bathing suit, having recently bought a Spanx to, shall we say, add more sleekness to the lines of a dress I wore to a wedding. Good luck with the swimming, and good for you! I’m feeling very challenged to get back to exercising, and I don’t quite know why (maybe because I’d rather blog?). But, if I had a dish of that dip waiting for me afterwards, I think I’d be motivated to have a session on the treadmill!ReplyCancel

    • I was thinking it was a lot like Spanx.. I forgot my flip flops on deck and had to pull a wet swimsuit back on to go out there.. now that was a challenge! Good grief! Blogging is very tempting.. I love it and we get to sit whilst writing:DReplyCancel

  • ruthie

    I used to love to swim! Unfortunately, I was so uncoordinated that I, too, was quickly ID’d as the one most likely to drown. In school, when I took the swimming classes, they soon had me teaching the beginners — figured it was safer to keep me in the shallow end where they didn’t have to watch my every (uncoordinated) move! πŸ˜‰
    Sorry to hear about the knees. Right there with you on that. But, this dip, very intriguing. I love corn, so it’s sounding like something I need to make.ReplyCancel

  • I am trying very hard not to laugh as my backstroke is not that good either – I was swimming a lot at one stage for my shoulder. I used the aqua pool instead of the training pool so that no-one would see me πŸ™‚ Good luck and have fun!ReplyCancel

  • Well done Smidge, you’ll be doing flip turns in no time! Every time I go swimming my stomach gets a workout from the dressing room to to pool (and back).ReplyCancel

  • Your chiropractor sounds like she has a great sense of humour too. I laughed out loud reading through the entire post. I am sure you will be swimming the fast lane pretty soon. Sure hope the water helps your knee.
    That dip is just what’s needed after a swim.ReplyCancel

    • Robin is hilarious.. he has me laughing from the minute I get there until I leave. It’s a highlight of my day, which is awesome considering he puts me through a lot of pain while he’s making me laugh:D I think the swimming will be great. xxReplyCancel

  • Great read! You are brave. I was just thinking the other day that I have not owned a bathing suit in at least ten years (though I can swim rather well, if I may say so myself – my father was an instructor at some point)… and promised myself I never would. Though reading this I can imagine being in the water again. Funny how we perceive our bodies upon entering middle age. I exercise every day, yet feel quite unfit for a bathing suit. On another note, I’ve been playing tag with so many blogs that I am afraid I’ve missed stopping here for a while. May I ask? Knee injury?ReplyCancel

    • It’s such a sad comment on body perception for sure.. and I’m as guilty as the next person. I hope you pick up a suit and just jump in, it’s not as bad as I thought:) No recent knee injury.. just hip pain that must be a secondary pain to an old knee issue. Time catches up with us!!ReplyCancel

  • Yes to jumping back in! ps. I love harissa so this is fantastic.ReplyCancel

  • I’ve never been much of a swimmer, so I give you huge credit for taking the plunge and going for laps. I don’t know that I could complete one lap! Sounds like it felt great to get in and moving though. Fabulous recipe too. It does sound like it would be good with bacon.ReplyCancel

  • You’re Aquawoman! I knew there was something really special about you…ReplyCancel

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