Why I love AquaPorko (I also love to ramble)

This post is brought to you by the delicious Katie C – EM.

I’m not sure how many people reading this blog have ever actually seen us do a ‘porko routine, but if you haven’t, you are surely missing out. The day of our first performance last year was pretty much the greatest day. We were brave, strong and amazing. We wore tutus, sang along, splashed our fat legs until we were red in the face and we had the most wonderful crowd to help cheer us on.

 A picture of 8 fat ladies in a swimming pool.  They are all wearing floral swimming caps and posing with their hands underneath their chin.

I joined Aquaporko thinking it’d be a good way for me to get some use out of my bathers and give this water-loving, heat-hating body of mine a place to take itself with the safety of other like-sized people. What I got was a group of inspirational, wonderful, funny and awesome team/group mates, something to look forward to after a long work day, and a chance to stretch myself in a number of different ways (only one is literal, there is a lot of stretching involved in a vagina-to-the-skull).

These women are amazing, some I am closer to than others, some I rarely see outside of ‘porko practice, but all of them are a part of what makes us so great. Each person will always hold a special place in my heart. I’ve been a part of sports teams and group before, but never anything like this. We laugh, we push each other mentally and physically, we spend a lot of time up-close and personal in the water and if that doesn’t build trust, I don’t know what will!

If you are a fatty out in the Melbourne community and looking for a way to connect with other fatties and to get some fun, splashing and awesomeness in your life, you can look no further than Aquaporko. We want to meet you, and we really want to teach you the Barracuda.

EM – We’re taking a break over the holiday period to be mermaids in various other non-porko times and locations.  If you’re interested in joining us in the new year, why not drop us a line at our Facebook page, or DM us @aquaporko on Twitter?  You can also email us at aquaporkomelb at gmail dot com.  SPLASHY HOLIDAYS!!

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Why I joined Aquaporko

I first learned of Aquaporko around this time last year. I’d been reading body positive blogs for a while and stumbled upon the group somewhere on the Internet. I joined the Facebook group, excited to start engaging with Melbourne’s fat community and become more comfortable with my newly realised identity as a fatty. Sadly, I lost my nerve and didn’t go. I continued reading, discovering more about myself and watching the local fat community grow. When the second season of Aquaporko began, I decided it was time to dive in*.

You see, despite taking on and wholeheartedly believing in the ideas that Fat Acceptance/Health at Every Size/body positivity/whatever, I didn’t actually know any other radical fatties and a lot of the people I engaged with on a regular basis had a decidedly anti-fat stance. After schooling a couple of my friends and one of my Health Science lecturers on the offensive, stigmatising and ignorant nature of their beliefs, I was desperately in need of some fat love. So, off I trotted to my first training session, convinced I’d either chicken out or be so awkward and new that no-one would like me. The troupe turned out to be super nice, I already knew how to egg-beat and I even went to dinner with them afterwards. I’ve since learnt how to tumble, scull and am working on my (no)handstands. Everyone I’ve met has been super welcoming and friendly, even though I nervously (and creepily) blurted out “I follow you on the Internet!” during introductions.

Although my main drive to join Aquaporko was to make friends and stop sitting on the sidelines, it has since come to mean a lot more for me. Being a part of a synchronised swimming team for fat folk has allowed me to come out to my friends as a fat, and proud, person. The group has given me an avenue to discuss fat hate with people in my life. Having to explain that no, I am not doing this to lose weight/tone up/get healthy/other stupid euphemism, allows me to discuss the ways that society labels and stigmatises people who are different. I get to tell people I am doing this because I am tired of living in a world where my body, and bodies like mine, are reviled and shamed. Aquaporko allows my fat body a place to take up space, be visible in my fatness and push against the boundaries placed upon it. Synchronised swimming requires strength, discipline, grace and awesome outfits. All things that my society says my body can not have because of it’s size. Getting together once a week with other fat bodies and moving them in ways that society says they can’t be moved is inspiring.

Joining Aquaporko is one of the best things I’ve done for myself this year. If you’ve been thinking about coming along to a session, I hope this prods you in the direction of the pool.

*I can’t actually dive

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Olympic Synchro

I didn’t get to see much of the Olympic synchro this year, what with it being on in the middle of the night, and my not having pay TV.  A few of the girls got together to watch, but I wasn’t able to make it, so I had to make do with finding as many YouTube videos as possible.

Olympic synchro is like another world.  We watch their routines for inspiration, and we use some of the moves that they do, but the thought of actually undertaking one of these routines leaves me breathless.  It’s certainly something to aim for.

This video gives you an idea of the routines of the top three at this year’s Olympics, as well as the way syncrho works in competition and the things judges look for. 

My favourite routine was by Spain, who won the silver medal.  In the above video, they’re the ones in the silver costumes – which I think are amazing.  The clip they show of the routine in that video doesn’t include what I consider to be the best move, where they lift one girl out of the water in a crab pose (bent over backwards) and launch another girl over the top of her.  It is actually incredible.

I’ve searched high and low for a really good quality video of the routine to no avail.  This is the best one I could find, but it cuts off the good move  a little.

I think the things that attract me to synchronised swimming are that it is beautiful and graceful, but also shows that women can be strong, fast and fierce.  I think people are often surprised at how skilled syncrho actually is.   After our performance last year we invited people into the pool to try some moves with us, and there was a lot of surprise when non-fat people were unable to do some of the things we do.

Also, it’s a team sport and requires women to bond together in order to create something.  Speaking from my own experience, I can tell you that there’s a special bond that forms when you’re in skin to skin, vagina to skull contact with people on a weekly basis.  Barriers break down, you laugh a lot.  It’s hard to maintain decorum when you’re slipping and sliding all over the place.  And it’s wonderful.

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Oooooh Barracuda!

I don’t know that many synchro moves, but I can tell you that of the ones know, this is my favourite.  I taught myself after watching the above video, and have been teaching the other Porkos how to do it since.  I’m not sure what it is – I just love the feeling of throwing yourself backwards and going up and out of the water, before sinking back in.  It feels powerful and graceful, and those are two things I don’t feel enough in my life!

Key to this move – the deep end of a deep pool!  Don’t try this in shallow water, you’re guaranteed to crack your noggin’ on the bottom of the pool!
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Aquaporko 2012/2013 FTW!

So, it was our first Aquaporko back for this season this week. To say I have been excited about this moment is an understatement to say the least! Since the performance in April, life has gone back to it’s usual hectic pace, but I’ll admit I’ve been feeling a bit bereft without my barracudas and ballet legs!
The performance last season was a real achievement for us all, and while showing off our mad skillz* to our friends and family was awesome, my favourite memory of the day was standing in a huddle with the crew, giving ourselves props for what we had achieved. We had some feels.
It’s not every day fat women get together and do something extraordinary. But it’s what we do, once a week. Reclaiming public space, reclaiming our bodies, reclaiming ourselves. It’s a powerful statement that we make simply by stripping down to our bathers and splashing about in the pool. Amazing that something so powerful can be that easy.
My weekly Porko sessions have become so much more to me than just an excuse to get into the pool and pretend to be a mermaid (a lifelong dream). Aquaporko has become a home away from home, a place where I’m not just accepted for who I am, but am encouraged and supported to be myself – even when I’m a quivering ball of social anxiety, barely capable of speech. Aquaporko is a place I know I’ll find friendship and laughter – lots of laughter – and love, and every week last season I counted down the days until I would see my Porkos again!
So yeah, to say that I have been excited for the return of Aquaporko for the 2012/2013 season is an understatement. It’s more like finding a part of myself that has been missing for six months.
If this sounds like the kind of thing you could get into, drop our Training Group a line with your membership request – let us know how you heard about us and why you’d like to join. Also, if you haven’t already, like us on Facebook!

We’re a fat-positive, queer-friendly and generally inclusive kind of group, open to anyone who self-identifies as fat. Those with inner Mermaids, Divas and Drag Queens are strongly encouraged to join! There’s no minimum swimming ability required, though the ability to prevent yourself from drowning is fairly essential.
*may or may not indicate actual skill ability.
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Aquaporko Season Two: The Porkening

What day is it, people of the internet?

Why, it is the day that Aquaporko Melbourne starts up again and I am so freaking excited that it verges on the obscene.

When the wonderful Jackie (from Fatuosity) convinced a group of us to jump in the pool and eggbeater with the best of them last year, I had no idea the impact that this one aspect of ~~fat community~~ would have on me. I’ve always loved swimming and have never really been overly shy about putting my fat body in the water but there is something so incredibly powerful about a group of fatties splashing around together.

I have been bereft over the off-season and have been marking off the days until Porko’s return on my calendar and it is finally here!

What is strange about today is trying out another pool. I know it is such a small thing but I had become so comfortable at the Carlton Baths and now there is the great unknown of a new place. However, knowing that there is a group of fab fats who will be exploring it with me, splashing around with me and being unashamedly fat in bathers with me, that makes all the difference.

I know where my bathers are. I know where my nose clip is. I even have a bathing cap this year.

Bring it on, porkos!