Joining swimming club as a kid, you learn to share the swimming lanes with other swimmers. You learn the etiquette of lane swimming and you learn to be respectful of your team mates. It then becomes really frustrating when trying to find a pool that is:-
a) open for public swimming when I’m not working
b) has at least one lane cordoned off for those that want to swim laps, and
c) is not so ridiculously busy that it takes hours to clock up a dozen lengths
I am really struggling to clock up the miles for the #swim22 this month for all of these reasons.
Much of the frustration of my third point could be alleviated if those that didn’t grow up staring at the bottom of a pool for mile after mile, would think about those around them when they’re swimming.
So for the uninitiated, here is a list of a Swimming Snob’s Do’s and Don’ts so we can all swim in peace and harmony – and I wont “accidentally” drown you by doing butterfly as you swim towards me.
- Do pick the right lane. Take note of the lane signs and choose according to your skill. If you are a slow swimmer, please choose the slow lane. If the lane you should be in is full and the lane next to you is nice and quiet, there is no problem with you moving into that one, as long as you appreciate that you might be getting in other people’s way.
- Do follow the circuit. The lanes have their own circuits, indicated on the signs. You either swim clockwise or anti-clockwise. Have you noticed the darker stripe down the middle of the lane? When competing you swim above that line and follow it. When swimming circuits you swim up one side of it and down the other. Don’t just swim up and down on one side, or worse still – in the middle. We’d all love a lane to ourselves, but, let’s face it, that is rarely going to happen.
- Do realise faster swimmers have right of way. Pay attention to those swimming in the same lane as you. If you are holding people up, or you have people constantly overtaking, it is simple courtesy to at least wait at the end of the lap for the faster swimmer to go first. The number of times I have got to the end of a lane behind a slower swimmer, only to have them look at me and immediately push off for their next length. It just takes a moment to wait for the faster swimmer to go past and they wont be getting in your way. Gah! You are the equivalent of the tractor on a B road. You have every right to be there, you really do, but when you have a chance – please pull into a lay-bye and let those queuing behind you to pass.
- Do get out of the way. Clubs will have a tap-feet policy, where the faster person behind taps the foot of the slower swimmer in front, who then moves out of the way. This might be a bit weird in a public pool surrounded by strangers. But just so you know, if you feel the need to tap me on the foot, I’ll know what to do and will act accordingly.
- Don’t walk, swim. Don’t stop half way down the length and start walking. Similarly, don’t stop 5 metres from the end and walk the rest. This has happened to me a lot this week, where the swimmer I was following suddenly stopped and stood up mid length, almost causing a pile-up. If you can’t swim a whole length, perhaps you should swim elsewhere. The roped off swimming lane is for exactly that – swimming.
- Do keep the end of the lane clear. If you are going to have a rest, get out of the way of incoming swimmers. The number of people who appear oblivious to those behind them and stand about chatting while others are trying to finish a length is really annoying. It’s particularly difficult for people who do tumble turns (something I have never mastered) and you’re likely to get kicked if you’re in the way.
- Do trim your nails – fingers and toes. No matter how careful you are, at some point you are bound to brush against a passing swimmer and you don’t want to be drawing blood with your grotesque big toe nail as you scrape it down someone’s shin.
- Don’t swim backstroke in a crowded lane. You can’t see where you’re going, you’re likely to drift across a lane, slap the backside of the guy behind you, or crash. Just check ahead and wait until it’s clear before you head off.
- DON’T PEE IN THE POOL! Did you know that you don’t get red eyes after swimming because of the chlorine? It happens when urine, sweat and dirt cause a chemical reaction with the chlorine. So shower before you get in the pool, then pee in the toilet and swim in the pool, not the other way around. The hours I’ve spent in a public pool, and the amount of water I must have swallowed – urgh – it doesn’t bare thinking about.
OK rant over. The public pool is just that – public. It’s designed for everyone, and the pools do their best to accommodate all. I love swimming, and love that people of all ages and abilities also enjoy the water. If I wanted to join a masters swimming club then I have that option. But to be honest, I’ve had enough of swimming clubs to last a lifetime. I am not trying to show off by constantly overtaking you. This is me exercising in the most enjoyable way I know how. I can’t run, I hate exercise classes, I just love to swim.
It’s not rocket science. It really just boils down to paying attention to the signs and your fellow swimmers. It’s simple good manners. So can we please try to be considerate of each other?