“Basically I heard this story that if you swim in a pool, you can get pregnant.  I think the legend goes that once a nun went swimming in a pool and got pregnant, so now people think that if you go swimming, you can get pregnant, too.”

Though she isn’t religious, Gillian told me that she heard this legend from a couple friends she had in middle school.  She said that one of her friends of her general group of friends, who was very religious said she heard the story from her parents, who received it in a funny email.  Though neither she nor her parents actually believe the legend, she were amused by it and told it to their friends.  She, Gillian, and the rest of their group from then on referenced the legend whenever they were near a pool or talking about swimming.

The legend seems to contain much irony because according to Christian belief, nuns aren’t supposed to engage in sexual intercourse, and therefore, aren’t ever supposed to get pregnant.  However, when the story came around that a nun went swimming and somehow got pregnant, it obviously became very interested and peculiar news.  If this had been a story about a random person who had gotten pregnant after swimming, it may not have had the same effect.  By including a nun, the legend seems to become much more powerful because nuns are known for not getting pregnant, and therefore the story is particularly intriguing.

This legend also seems particularly amusing to Gillian and her friends because they were at an age at which they were just learning about puberty.  Though Gillian’s friends’ parents were only slightly amused by it, Gillian and her friends were the ones who really engaged in retelling the story over and over.  This is most likely because as young girls, they were just learning about menstruation, sex, and pregnancy.  At this age, these topics seem somewhat taboo, scary, or awkward to talk about.  By participating in telling this story, they are showing a natural curiosity and interest in unknown human functions and topics that are typically left for adults to discuss.  Also, by joking around about such a taboo topic, the girls eliminate any embarrassment because subconsciously they know the story is ridiculous, as well.  However, by pretending the story is real and going along with it, they then make it less embarrassing to discuss any other beliefs or stories they heard about these topics and won’t feel as stupid about sharing anything ridiculous that they happen to hear.  In general, while this story clearly isn’t true, it’s a striking and peculiar legend that proves to be very amusing to young girls and those who discuss beliefs about pregnancy and amusing tales related to these types of bodily functions.  It also provides an amusing kind of joke about religion due to its contradictory nature.