The problem with swimming

I am on Day 2 of Being Active week and, since there’s an outdoor swimming pool near my house, I thought I’d try to swim every day this week. Yesterday went well. The pool opens at 6.30am so I woke up at 6am and was in the pool by 6.40am. I thought it’d be good because I might miss the rush. I’ve been a few different times in the morning and it’s always pretty full. I was trying to find a time when it was a bit emptier so I could swim without crashing into people.

Of course my plan did not work. It was still quite full ten minutes after opening. ‘O well,’ I thought. ‘I’ll just swim in that one empty lane over there that no-one else is in. I wonder why no-one else is in it.’

Off I go, to the empty lane. All to myself. Ahhh, loads of space. Very exciting. I get in and I think maybe I’ll be a bit adventurous today, I’ll do back stroke. Seeing as there’s no-one else in the lane, I can swim without worrying that I’ll hit anyone. So I do one length, it’s quite tiring for someone who’s into the whole gentle-stroll scene.

And that’s when I see it, the sign at the top of the lane, in massive letters. ‘FAST LANE. FRONT CRAWL ONLY.’

O no! I’d just committed a swimming faux-pas. I’d done back stroke in the front crawl lane! I suddenly felt very self-conscious and looked around for another space in one of the slower lanes but there weren’t any. Disaster! I checked the indoor pool but that was even busier. I looked at the lifeguard, ready to be told off, but she hadn’t noticed. There was nothing for it but to keep going. Worse still, I had decided to do back stroke on my way up and breast stroke on my way back. So there I was, plodding along like a grandma, doing breast stroke in the FAST FRONT CRAWL ONLY lane. Boy, was I nervous! I tried doing front crawl for a length but it wasn’t great. I know my limitations. At the moment, back stroke and breast stroke are my comfort zone.

Inevitably, someone wanting to use the FAST FRONT CRAWL ONLY lane to do front crawl came into the lane so I went into the one next to me as a space had freed up there and immediately I was exposed to all the minor annoyances of swimming around other people.

Why is that person swimming in a diagonal line? They’ve cut across my bit and now I’ve got to move to get around them. And now I’ve lost my space.

I’m swimming in this bit! Why are you getting in the pool and swimming in a straight line toward me? I guess I’ll move out of the way although I was here first. And again, lost my space.

If you’re going to swim in the lap lane, don’t be the slowest swimmer ever, please. People are behind you, trying to get some exercise.

If you’re going to come here and swim in public, make sure you can do it first. The big splashing nonsense that appears to be your version of ‘swimming’ is making me fear for my life. You also just kicked me on your way past.

So you see the problems of swimming in a public pool!? It’s not as straight forward as you would think. You spend a long time, carving out a little space for yourself and then people come and invade it. Or you accidentally ignore the swimming social etiquette by swimming in the wrong lane. Or you get stuck next to someone who’s all arms and legs and you have to flatten yourself against the side when they pass. There’s lots to think about. I bet you thought swimming was a fairly simple activity? Well, I must warn you, don’t bring your brain with you if you want a simple swimming session. There’s too much to think about.

Today, I’m working early so will swim after work. Fingers crossed I won’t talk myself out of it (I’m very good at talking myself out of things).

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7 responses to this post.

  1. Just go for a jog. At least you won’t stink of chlorine then!

    Reply

  2. Posted by rambler5319 on June 26, 2012 at 10:47

    As with the coffee thing, swimming is part of a long tradition. By 1837 – the same year Queen Victoria came to the throne – London had 6 indoor swimming pools. The oldest swimming club (in the world!) is Maidstone Swimming Club (in Kent, UK) formed in 1844! What was the largest swimming pool in the US (in San Francisco but closed in 1971) used to have lifeguards who had to use kayaks to patrol it! That’s because the pool was 300m x 50m.

    From Jeff Wiltse’s book “Contested Waters: A Social History Of Swimming Pools In America” we learn that at the beginning of the 20th Cent it took, on average, 10 yds (9.1 metres) of material to make a lady’s swimming costume. By 1940 it took just 1 yard (0.91 metres). You can probably guess why.

    RMS Adriatic was the first ocean liner to have an indoor swimming pool. The ship was
    built in 1907 by Harland & Wolff in Belfast – the same shipyard that built the Titanic. Interestingly, in 1912, the Adriatic brought home from the USA to the UK the lady who had been the youngest passenger on the Titanic.

    Reply

  3. your a braver person than me, I do power walking, well that’s the title but it means I can walk relativeley unscathed from others.

    Reply

  4. Ah-ha! Public swimming pool. Is there such a thing as a swimming faux-pas in a public swimming pool? lol

    Reply

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