It was me. I did it. I was the first person to fart in the Sydney Olympic Pool. I can't completely verify that nobody farted in the Olympic pool before me, but I'm fairly certain nobody farted in it until I did. This is my story, the story of a 10-year-old boy with a flatulent dream.
The Sydney Olympic Park Aquatic Centre opened in the winter of 1994 to much pomp and circumstance. It quickly became THE place for go. Alongside the diving boards and Olympic pool was a series of leisure pools complete with a lazy river, water slides, fountains and giant inflatable pool toys. Sydney is too crammed for swimming pools to be a regular feature in people's backyards, so traveling out to the venue became a ritual during the Summer.
These leisure pools were constructed first, likely because entrance fees would help ameliorate the exorbitant price of other venues. When it first opened there was simply a glass wall separating the park from the Olympic pool and large pieces of canvas blocking the view. A simple "under construction" sign marked the doorway complete with the picture of a hardhat.
Things changed over the coming months. Slowly the canvas was removed and one day it was there. A beautiful pristine swimming pool that would one day host world records and medalists. The only thing it was missing was the water.
I must have gone to the aquatic center 10 times that summer, and the pool was always empty. Occasionally I'd walk through the doors and take a look before a lifeguard would run inside and kick me out saying the pool was "off limits." It was around this time the swirling ether that turns whims into dreams took shape in my mind: I was going to be the first person to fart in that pool.
Every time I went to the aquatic center I asked "When are they filling the pool?" I worked out that the best way to get an answer was to approach one of the senior volunteers and speak softly. I even bought a disposable camera to pose like the most-excited little Olympic nerd possible. Most of the time I never got an answer, but one day I found out, "They're filling it on Friday for the unveiling on Monday," a slight old woman with a shock of snow-white hair told me. "You should come back on Monday to see it, young man." I batted my eyes, smiled sweetly and said "Absolutely!" Inside I was scheming.
The hard sell was going to be convincing mum to let me go to the pool twice in a week. It wasn't cheap to go to, so I enlisted my friends. I told all of them to ask their parents to go on Friday -- we'd make it a group thing -- I'd use the implied threat of a socially maladjusted child to convince mum that I HAD to go on Friday. If EVERYONE was going then I HAD to.
It totally worked.
On Thursday night mum asked me what I wanted for dinner. There was only one answer: "Sausages and baked beans," I said in a loud assertive voice. She laughed and made a joke about how I'd be farting at the pool tomorrow. I hid my smile. After some negotiations and agreement that I would eat steamed carrots, too, I got my gas-inducing meal. I staved off eating as long as possible by saying I wasn't hungry, until we ate a late dinner. Everything was perfect.
The next morning I set off to the pool with my friends. None of them knew my plan. This was intentional for two reasons: Firstly, I didn't want any of them to steal my idea and secondly, it would be WAY funnier if I didn't tell them. When we arrived they immediately went to the water slide, while I checked on the pool. IT WAS BEING FILLED! Large fire hoses were pointed at the pristine pool. There must have been eight of them. It took hours but around 2 p.m. the hoses were withdrawn and a small army of crew went to retrieve the chemicals they needed. This was my chance.
I told my friend Louie to pretend he was drowning in the small pool nearest to the doors. He was a couple of years younger and incredibly impressionable. I knew he'd do it to impress us. I told him it would be funny. He played his role and within seconds the only lifeguard near the doors to the Olympic pool leaped in the water and rescued him.
As soon as Louis began flailing I was off. Half-running, half-walking -- trying to garner as little attention as possible while trying not to slip on the floor. I swung open the large glass doors, ran towards the starting blocks and cannonballed into the water. As soon as my head breached the surface I saw a man standing over me, then heard him as my ears cleared "GET OUT RIGHT NOW!" he bellowed in the kind of voice my second grade teacher Mr. Martin used to use.
I stared at the lifeguard, locked eye contact with him and said "One second," then I let rip the kind of fart that would have terrified a small herd of water buffalo. It was like someone burst a balloon underwater and a second later huge bubbles cascades to the surface with a strange kind of fizz that came from the popping of smaller secondary bubbles.
"THAT IS DISGUSTING!" the lifeguard said, "GET OUT THIS INSTANT!" With a huge smile on my face I swam to the nearest ladder and hoisted myself out. I'd like to say I was cool, but at this point I was terrified. This man was really, really angry and I tried to avoid conflict wherever possible.
"Where are your parents?" He asked. I remained silent before saying "I got here on my own. I'm with a group of friends." I was escorted to the box office where the center manager would meet me. She asked for my phone number and called my mum. I was worried.
"Yes, well I'm sorry Mrs. Dator but he's no longer allowed at the aquatic center today ... Yes, I know it's disappointing ... Your son trespassed and dived into the Olympic pool and, I'll let him tell you."
I was handed the phone and was trembling. I still don't know whether it was fear or that I was cold. "Jamie. What did you do?" my mum asked. "I just looked at the pool," I said. "What did you do?" she responded, sounding more disapproving with ever passing second. "I ... I farted in the Olympic pool."
After five seconds her stern voice echoed, but something was off. Now I know that she was laughing uncontrollably, but needed to reconcile this with being a stern parent. My mum was a trained actress, but still struggled to stay composed as she chided me and said she was on her way to pick me up. She added that I wouldn't be going back to the aquatic center all summer.
We didn't own a car, but a small red 1980's Toyota arrived outside about 20 minutes later. My mum had gotten a ride from a friend, and she had her best "stern mom face" on. As soon as we left the parking lot she had one question: "Why on earth would you do that?"
My answer was, and remains simple: I was the first person to ever fart in the Olympic pool, and that's awesome. She held back laughing, and told me I shouldn't have done that. The car ride was largely silent until she had one more question for me:
"Was THAT why you wanted baked beans for dinner last night?"
All I could do was laugh. A second later she was dying, too. The last words I heard on it was "That was bloody stupid, you know?" but secretly I could tell she was kind of proud.