I think I’ve mentioned before that I’ve been going swimming at lunchtimes to try and get fit, and get back into some semblance of healthy living. Well, the swimming’s going well (also looking healthier thanks to the outdoor pool and building up a natural sun tan – dodgy strap marks though!), but I can’t say much for the healthy eating aspect. That still needs work.
Next week sees the outdoor pool open their holiday timetable, so that means no more lane swimming (boo), and if we want to swim, we’ll have to go back to the indoor pool which is only 25 metres and smaller lanes. Such a shame as it is bliss swimming outside.
As I love to swim and people watch (separately, or together), I thought I’d share my thoughts on the different types of people I’ve met while swimming, as well as some lane swimming etiquette for those who are thinking about starting. Bear in mind I’m by no means a ‘pro’ swimmer, but I like to think I have a bit of spatial awareness about other people in the pool.
Lane swimming etiquette
1. Have a brief look at the speeds people are swimming in each lane
In our outdoor pool, they don’t name the lanes by speed, but it’s pretty obvious that there’s a fast lane (in ours, it’s predominantly triathletes), a slow lane and a middle speed. I’m definitely a middle lane swimmer by speed, plus I do breast stroke which is what a lot of people in our middle lane do. Do be prepared to change lanes if speeds change. I know I get slower, and often the slower lane will get quieter so I’ll switch lanes
2. Ensure you check the direction of the lanes before getting in
One person in the fast lane today, hadn’t got the direction right and just crashed straight into someone else.
3. Think of the implications when doing backstroke
If you’re going to do backstroke, choose a quiet day or a lane that’s either wide or has no one in it. Don’t go powering up and down the lanes with no regard to anyone else and the general lane speed. Or if you’re a wonky backstroker like me (especially in an outdoor pool with no overhead guides), just don’t go there.
4. Generally be aware of others.
Some people swim regularly and just want to do lanes. After all, that’s the point of lane swimming – exercise, practice, times. Don’t just stick your head down and ignore all others. In our pool, once the middle lane thins out, people tend to then have an unspoken agreement to change to just swimming up and down rather than clockwise or anti-clock. So if you then join the pool later, check before heading straight in. We also had one session where there was pool rage. I was swimming down and then heard behind me one of the faster female swimmers shouting at a bloke who kept kicking her as he swam past. He’d obviously just been swimming and ignoring everyone else in the pool, as she was shouting ‘you’re wearing goggles, that lets you look what others are doing’. Totally agree with her. He didn’t stay in the pool long after that, but it doesn’t take a lot to check where others are before swimming or while doing your length.
5. Don’t use it as a chatting session with your friends.
If you want to swim double abreast chatting away (usually in too fast a lane for your speed) wait until there’s no one else in the pool, go to a public swim session, or just swim your length and then chat at the ends. Today, there were 3 women in the middle lane – one swimming backwards chatting to the other 2, and then the 2 swimming alongside each other. Slowly. The one on her back was a regular who’s a fast swimmer and should know better in my opinion. But it meant people were having to overtake very wide.
6. If you’re the slowest swimmer in the lane, keep at the edge of the lane.
Today, I was trying to overtake one woman who was veering well out of the side. It meant I was overtaking, and another faster woman was overtaking me taking us over into the oncoming swimmers. So as I went past I just said ‘any chance you can move nearer the edge and use the guidelines on the floor’. She hadn’t really realised, but her explanation was ‘I’m not good at swimming in the shallow end’. Very odd given that she was halfway down a 50 metre pool but she did move over a bit. Just comes back to the awareness thing really.
7. Think about swimming around you if you’re slower/having a break.
If you’re hanging around having a breather before setting off again, and you’re one of the slower swimmers, please let faster swimmers go first. Makes sense, especially if they’re just pounding up and down, and you’re needing to take a breather. Oh, and while you’re taking the breather, don’t stand right where people swim in to the edge or where they set off from.
I’ll also throw in that once you’ve finished your swim, don’t wander off and turn on the splash zone facilities to do your stretches under. The last time we saw someone wander off to do that in his tight little swim shorts, to us it looked like he was naked as there was a pillar blocking his shorts. And the lifeguard rushed off his chair to work out what was going on there!
To me these all seem like common sense, but it always amazes me how confused some people get. Or those that just like to hog and take over the lane you’re all swimming in. And this is where I think lane swimming is like driving.
Both public swimming and driving need a bit of spatial awareness and understanding of what’s going on around you, if not you can have a serious crash or swim/car rage going on. If you drive you follow the rules of the road, and lane swimming’s just the same.
Oh, and not forgetting the accessories…cars have go faster stripes, swimmers have goggles, hats and swim bikinis or triathlon suits.
Are you a lane swimmer, or do you do a splashabout with the children when you get the chance?
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