Hello, I’m Gary, and I like to swim.
I like to swim a lot. I swim first thing in the day, 5.30 till 7. If I have to miss that, I swim 12.30 till 2. There’s a reason why it has to be these times - that’s when my local pool fences off half the pool into lanes. Lanes are a good thing, as they allow swimmers to zip along as fast as their tiring limbs will drive them without leaving behind a trail of poleaxed children, grannies and other casualties reminiscent of the last scenes of the titanic.
A little bit about the main municipal pool here - it’s a beauty. A nice Victorian affair, just under Olympic in size, and for an old slow design it’s not too choppy. They put three lanes across one half of it at these times, and they even helpfully put up some rather large signs by these lanes to give you an indicator of speed: slow, medium and fast. In all, you think this would be a fairly fool proof system, right?
Recent events however have made it apparent that this is still not clear enough for a surprisingly large number of swimmers. I would appreciate your feedback on a set of notes I’m preparing for people who still need further advice.
These you will recognize as long ropes, supported by a set of bright orange floats all along their length. Please be aware of the following points
The markers are not some form of mooring system, to be used to support you when you decide to have a gossip break with some of your similarly challenged companions. Stop trying to stand on them.
Although seeking new physical challenges should always be encouraged, your attempt to swim right through them is unlikely to succeed. May I suggest you either turn around, or swim parallel to them
When actually within a lane, there are some useful rules to follow.
If you look at the rather large signs in front of each lane, you will notice the direction of that lane. However, should that be a tad beyond your reading abilities, you will notice that all the people currently within the lane are swimming in one direction - clockwise. While everyone recognizes you are a free spirit, who would go where you choose, may I suggest that should you swim in the opposite rotation, you will find yourself repeatedly crashing into oncoming swimmers, who may be somewhat vexed at you.
Swim breaks. It is understandable that even a honed athlete such as yourself will need to take occasional breaks in their workout. This is best done by leaving the lane. It is worst done by inviting a group of ten of your friends to all stand in the shallow end of the lane, impeding other swimmers as you discuss why the local soccer team is so poor. Should you do so, please do not be surprised when I use your body as a good platform to tumble turn off, even though this will hurt you considerably.
Choosing a lane
We all understand that you are a person in peak physical condition, notwithstanding certain indications to the contra (your beer gut, the swimming trunks that appear not to have fitted you since you left school 20 years ago, and the way you were standing in front of the pool having a pre-workout smoke when I came in). However, swimming does rely heavily on technique, so perhaps just blithely assuming you’re a fast swimmer isn’t the best way to go.
Generally you will know you’re in the right lane if you’re keeping up with most of the other swimmers. If the fellow swimmers in your lane have become so tired of being slowed down by you that they’ve now started using leg floats and swimming with arms only, and yet they still are overtaking you, this might be a good sign to move down one lane.
Even within the lane categories available, there will still be marked differences in speed. If you do sense that someone is catching up with you, it is usually best just to let them pass. Throwing all your energy into a short lived frenzy of almost epileptic fury doesn’t actually make you go any faster. It just makes you look very silly.
Sometimes people will catch up with you, and occasionally you will even have someone’s hand contacting your foot. This is best viewed as a indicator to stop at the end of this lap and let someone pass. It is probably best not to view this as provocation, stop swimming and threaten to assault the person in question.
The above guideline servers double if the person in question is a woman at least 20 years older than you. This is not because I’m sexist - it’s just the person you’re currently swearing at is a former triathlete and shotokan instructor, and I might well laugh so hard at what happens next that I drown.