Another "Was I a jerk?" thread

I swim at a local gym. The pool has 3 lanes, each with a clear stripe tiled down the center. If more than 3 people are using the pool at a time, the standard practice is for 2 people to double up in a lane. The newcomer generally asks the person already in the lane if they would share, and both swimmers/exercises stay on their side of that lane’s center line. Never been a problem.

Yesterday I get there, and there are 2 people in each of 2 of the lanes, and one lane with a only single guy swimming. I stand at the end of that lane waiting for him to get there, ask him if he minds sharing, and set off. I always make a special effort to stay on my side of the lane. Yesterday, I often brushed up against the wall of the pool. About 10 laps in, he kicked me as we passed. I thought “No big deal.” Next length he pretty much ran right into me, bringing us both to a stop.
I said, "Excuse me, please stay on your side of the lane."
When he did not respond, I said, "You were swimming down the middle. See - you are standing astride the center line right now."
He said, “It was hard to see where I was going, because I was doing the backstroke.”
I responded, "Perhaps you ought not do the backstroke when you are sharing a lane."
End of story. We both swam off. Eventually he moved into another lane when the people using it left.

I thought I showed pretty excellent control, and expressed myself appropriately in the moment. My wife thought my final statement was - I don’t know - bossy? Critical? Instead, she thinks instead I ought to have simply said, “Please don’t run into me.”

I can imagine this sort of thing recurring in this relatively well-used public pool. So, was there ANYTHING wrong with how I handled it? Any other way you would phrase it?

Your final statement was a touch bossy, sure, but I don’t think you crossed the “jerk” line. “Please don’t run into me” would have been more polite, but I don’t have a problem with your approach.

'Perhaps I ought not offer to share a lane when doing the backstroke!"

He didn’t do it on purpose, there was no call to be rude.

Your parting shot was a little much, but whatever. If he wanted to do the backstroke and you were in the lane against the wall, I would have offered to switch. Easier to sense where he is in relation to the wall. Imagining myself in this scenario, I probably would have gone with “Dude. Let’s work on that.” and carried on after the stop. I’m not a swimmer-for-exercise, but I imagine two to a lane isn’t ideal for anyone.

What happens when the seventh person shows up, do three people circle in one lane as opposed to each taking half? What happens if three are circling & are different speeds, with one overtaking just as the third is coming the opposite way?

Would you have gone into that lane if he was doing fly, which is a wide stroke?

If you’re using a shared space comprises sometimes need to be made. Sometimes you need to wait for the machine you want.

Yes, he should have moved over or changed his stroke, but telling him to change his workout to accommodate you ((which is what your last line to him was) is jerkish too.

Yeah, kinda jerky. You are right, but not worth making a big deal.

Although you didn’t mention it, I’m assuming that in addition to the center poolbottom stripe in each lane, the lanes are separated by lanelines? If so, there’s no excuse for wandering all over the pool while you’re doing backstroke - keeping the lanelines at your side is just as easy as keeping the wall at your side.

A better final comment would have been "You can use the lane lines next to you as a guide to keep yourself from running into other people while you’re doing backstroke."

He has to be aware that you need to pay attention to your surroundings while doing backstroke, otherwise he’d be ramming his head into the wall at every turn. So he’s obviously watching for the flags. He should be able to keep a side-eye on the lane lines, too.

All right - more background. Historically, I have not been a swimmer. More of a runner, but swimming now after multiple knee/ankle/foot injuries/surgeries. I’ve been swimming at this club approx. 10x/month since November.

Since I’m not experienced in the swimming - or even health club - culture, I’ve been picking up the rules/behaviors here. I’ve never asked the staff what the “rules” are re: sharing the pool. To be perfectly honest, I would bet there are no specific rules. With only 3 lanes, and many swimmers going at least 30 mins, it strikes me as presumptuous that someone could hog 1/3 of the available space for so long. And, what I have seen is that 6 people are willing and able to share.

The first time someone asked to join my lane, I assumed we would be chasing each other, rather than each taking 1/2 the lane, but when I ran into her :wink: she told me the practice was for folk to each take 1/2. Since then, that has been the case 100% of the time. The lanes are wide enough that there is no problem sharing doing the crawl. When I have a lane to myself, I mix up breast and back, but when I share, I just crawl.

Also, while I essentially “ask” the lone swimmer in a lane if they mind sharing, it never crosses my mind that they could actually decline. If they did, I’d go right to the front desk and bring staff in there. When engaging in an activity I’m not really familiar with, I generally take my cues from the folk who appear most capable/comfortable. The better swimmers never seem to have a problem sharing lanes as I describe. This guy yesterday was not a graceful or fast swimmer, tho he did keep at it for a long time.

So far I’ve been unable to identify exactly when the pool is crowded/empty. There have been 6 people only a couple of times. On those occasions, the 7th person generally waits until 1/2 of a lane opens up. Sometimes, multiple people walking or doing water aerobics will share 1/2 of a lane. One time, I was the 6th swimmer, a 7th showed up, and when none of the other 5 stopped after several laps, I offered to share with her. They swam 2 laps, then I swam 2 laps. I just thought that was common courtesy re: a shared resource which neither of us owned.

Odd - I find myself having difficulty in social situations like this. I thought my handling of it was pretty darned polite in the face of what impressed me as either rudeness or cluelessness by the other guy. If he was actually so stupid as to not realize backstroke was not a good idea, I was helping him out by informing him.

So, put yourself in my position. After the guy kicks you once, then runs into you, you both stop, you say “Excuse me.” and he is standing in the middle of the lane looking at you, what do you say/do? Like I say, I really want to know how others would handle such things, because anything I say resists my initial inclination to start off politely , “Hey dumbfuck…” :wink:

On edit - good suggestion Lightray. I probably get a lane to myself at least 1/2 of my workouts, more than 1/2 of the time. So I just do my back then, and crawl when sharing.

Sheesh, how hard is it to get over someone bumping into you? Are you seriously worried for your safety here? If it didn’t hurt, and he didn’t do it on purpose, who cares?

It could happen again! Yeah it could! Or everybody could just continue on and naturally attempt not to bump.

Of course there remains the possibility you could brush against each other again. OMG

This is why I don’t go outside.

This is why I’m so glad I swim on a team with other people who know how to swim in a lane. Even then it’s a pain.

The general rule should be that two people should split a lane if it’s wide enough, unless both people are around the same speed and don’t mind swimming in circles.

The guy should not have been doing backstroke if he could not stay on his half of the lane. Nor should people be doing butterfly if they don’t know how to not stroke when someone is coming the other way. Breaststrokers also need to know where the other swimmers are in the lane.

I’ve actually had people run in to me, a couple on my team, and when I ask them to be careful they wonder what I’m talking about. One guy thought it kind of funny he kicked me in the head. There’s always going to be some bumping and hitting arms and such, but it shouldn’t normally hurt and you should be running in to people.

You were a bit of a jerk, but not so much I’d worry about it, sometimes people need to be a jerk to get their point across.

Pool etiquette tends to vary a bit at each pool. But the default I’m used to is, circle laps (everyone swims down on their right-hand side of the lane) unless negotiated with whomever you’re sharing the lane with. If there’s only two of you, then you can split the lane between you, if both of you are agreeable to it. If there are 3+ people in a lane, it would be unfair to split the lane.

Regardless, you always make sure the people in the lane know you’re joining them; never jump in and start swimming assuming they’ll get out of your way.

Dinsdale, talk to any of the lifeguards or the pool manager next time you’re there. They’ll know the high usage times, and the times when there are few people in the pool. If you can accommodate your schedule to that, life gets much easier. (where I swim, Tues and Thurs just after work are miserable; but after 7:30+pm and on Fri evening there are very few lap swimmers.)

You’re obviously not a swimmer. Ramming into someone else hurts. Both of you. Poor swimmers usually go slow, so two slow swimmers knocking heads isn’t so bad. But fast swimmers are not fast at stopping - if I slam into someone, they’ll be feeling it for a while.

And you can’t rely on everyone seeing who is coming - in addition to backstroke making watching ahead impossible, your head is usually down while swimming, not looking ahead.

Furthermore, just getting hit by other swimmers’ hands can be injurious. I’ve constantly got claw marks on my lower legs because of inattentive swimmers with long fingernails.

Swimming isn’t as low-impact as you’d think.

Lifeguards? Pool manager? Hah! You are so funny! :wink: Seriously, the place seems pretty clueless about what goes on in the pool. But for the most part, it seems to work out just fine. The vast majority of folk in the gym seem to do things other than swim.

Heck, the other week the pool temp was cold. Only took me asking 2 staff before someone said, “I think there is a problem with the heater or something,” and then only 1 more staff to learn that “the pool guy” was coming the next morning! But the pool seems clean, and for the most part, not too crowded. I just want to keep this old carcass moving… This place is reasonably priced, and right between my home and work.

I generally go over lunchtime when working at home - say getting there betw 11-2, and right after work on days I go in to the office - say 3-4. Darned if I’ve been able to figure out any pattern as to when it is busy/empty. One Monday I might go there at 11 a.m. and be the only swimmer. The next Monday at the same time there might be 4-5 swimmers when I get there. Weird.

So far I’ve been able to get my swims in at the times most convenient to me. I think they said it is crowded first thing in the a.m. I could go earlier or later, but you know how it is, if you are able to exercise at the time most convenient to you, you are more likely to keep it up. One reason I used to enjoy running. Didn’t need to follow anyone else’s schedule, and didn’t need any equipment other than some shoes and attire for the range of temps. But too much abuse to my knees/ankles/feet…

I honestly don’t know if I’d say anything if someone I was sharing a lane with hit me. I’ve shared plenty of lanes and it hasn’t happened yet in many years.

One thing that I do is keep MY head up, always looking for where the other person is. And I stay out of their way. Is that not something you can do? I do a crawl and a breaststroke. When I do a backstroke I just use my legs and follow the lane marker with my hand.

I’m not swimming competitively or really next to very fast swimmers, so I am able to keep an eye out with ease.

The water temp really should be cool, enough so that when you get in it’s a bit cold, but when you start swimming it should be nice. When the water is too hot it makes it harder to swim in and you’ll get over heated.

Does not meet the standard of ‘jerk’. I have be a swimmer for years. Rules always have been that 2 people can decide to share a lane sticking to one side. As soon as a third person shows up you go to circle where you try and leave a few seconds bet people, but if you can’t, you simply pass people. No head on collisions as you are in circle formation. You should always be aware of number of people in your lane so you can see when a line changes to a circle. Once in a circle formation any number can swim so forget that silly standing around. Also, should have fast, medium and slow lanes. People always need to be award of hitting others. Getting kicked or hit does hurt and can put you off balance when under water.

Yeah, a bit of a wanker.

My experience with swimming in public pools is that the backstroke is unusual enough that if someone is doing it, there’s usually a reason-- they are rehabbing a shoulder injury or surgery, have a neck injury, or they can’t put their face in the water for some reason. So telling someone not to do it is a little presumptuous, especially when he was there first.