At the end of the passage and through a set of sliding doors, Allie, Sandra and Cam finally emerged into the most enourmous swimming pool Allie had ever seen. A high glass ceiling towered above them and at the far end of the 50-metre pool three diving boards towered above the blue-tiled poolside. Amazed by the sheer scale of the place, Allie's jaw dropped. Seeing her gormless expression, Sandra giggled and nudged her shoulder:
"Impressive isn't it? Now come on, I'm dying to show you this!"
Still gawking, Allie followed Sandra over to a small bench beneath the spectator stands. On it were a pair of bizarre contraptions that looked like something out of a science-fiction movie. They looked like a pair of enourmous flippers attached to a massive rubber tube with a set of velcro straps at the top of each.
"Strange looking things aren't they?" said Sandra, grinning at the look of utter bemusement on Allie's face, "I call them Water Legs, I've been using them ever since I was little. I had a spare pair brought over for you, my dad made them you see, he's a marine biologist. He says he got the idea from the way dolphins move through the water. You see, you use your hips to use these, like a sort of tail. Here, let me get mine on and I'll show you."
Allie watched in confusion as Sandra wheeled herself alongside the bench and, with help from Cam, wriggled her way into the rubber tubing, looping the velcro straps across her body and over her shoulders and drawing them tight to help keep the tail in place. She moved her hips experimentally and the flippers slapped comically against the tiles. The sight of Sandra strapped into her Water Legs made Allie think of the pictures of mermaids she'd seen as a child, only this one was real.
"Cool aren't they? Trust me, you'll get the point of them once you're in the water, here, I'll help you get yours on."
Pulling up alongside the bench, Allie giggled hysterically as she pulled the slippery pink rubber up over her lower body, the squidgy material clinging to her middle like a second skin. However Sandra's dad had thought of this she had no idea, but Sandra was right, they were amazing.
"You ready to try it out Allie?" asked Cam, smiling broadly and displaying gleaming white teeth. Allie nodded and, slowly, the pair made their way to the poolside. Sandra slipped right out of her chair and straight into the water, squeaking about the cold. Allie followed someting more cautiously, unused to the feeling of the ungainly Water Legs attached to her lower half. Once in, she hung onto the poolside and wiggled her hips experimentally, yelping in alarm at the massive thrust she felt from the fins.
"They take a bit of getting used to," called Sandra, already splashing about in the middle of the pool, "But you get the hang of them pretty quickly. Just remember to use your hips and stomach muscles and not to twist too much. Have a go!"
Biting her lip nervously, Allie kept a firm grip on the side and gave the Water Legs another tentative wiggle. Despite her excitement, she was rather daunted at the prospect of using the alien things. Then again, she reminded herself, what harm could it do? Better to take the plunge and see what happens than never give it a go at all.
"Coming Sandra!" she called, taking a deep breath before pushing off the wall and feeling the water close over her and taking her first steps in the Water Legs.