My Swimming Rant

Got in the pool this morning for a fabulous 3000m swim.  50 Minutes, in and out, smoking it the whole time.  So why am I about to rant?  Well, my workout pet peeve struck again this morning and I just can’t keep it down…Etiquette, people, we are going to talk about etiquette!

I credit my mother with teaching me to work out; I swear, the woman is a beast!  From the time I was a little kid, she was taking me on her runs with her (she was a single mother, so having me rollerblade along side her on her runs was free daycare!), I was in the pool every morning with her, and when I hit 14 she started teaching me about weight lifting.  I credit her with my love of exercise and my desire to always push myself to work harder.  Aside from being determined in everything she does, my mother is also one of the biggest sticklers for etiquette you will meet.  So…from day 1, she was teaching me about proper workout etiquette.  Running- if you are slower, stay to the side and let the speed demons pass.  Weight room- don’t hog the benches, bring a sweat towel, let people work in, and most importantly: SMILE and say hi to the people you see every morning!  They become your family (some of my best friends are people I’ve met in gyms)

So that brings us to swimming…..

Swimming is one of those sports that attracts all types.  You get the hardcore swimmers (I sort of stupidly put myself in this group, seeing as I competed for many years and still swim all out), the average lap swimmer, the aqua joggers (but this is a whole other can of worms) and the floaters.  Then, you get the final class: the people who can’t swim, but sure as hell think they can.  These are the people who will place themselves in the center lane (the fastest lane, for those of you unfamiliar with lane speeds) and do a lilting breaststroke down the center of the lane, directly into me.  That is exactly what happened this morning.  I was about 1/3 of the way through my workout and really getting up to speed when I looked up to spot the wall, and saw barreling at me, a man doing the most ridiculous form of butterfly I’ve ever seen: straight down the middle of the lane.  I immediately zoomed to the bottom of the pool and swam under him to avoid swimming full speed into his head and waited at the end of the lane until he returned.  I politely told him that when we gets into a lane, he needs to inform the other swimmers of his presence, and asked if we could circle swim.  He was very nice (so nice that I didn’t yell at him :)) and really got into the circle swimming, so even with my passing him, we managed to have a good swim.

It doesn’t always happen that you get very agreeable lane-mates that really don’t know the rules and are happy to learn.  Usually I get the people who don’t want to be told that what they are doing is dangerous (but honestly, no one likes to be corrected, its human nature) and will continue to swim directly into me for an hour.  So in light of this issue…I present to you…

Liz’s Rules for Happy Lap Swimming!

1. Always pick the correct lane for your speed.  Walk around the pool for a few minutes and try to gage the speed of people in the lanes.  If you think you have found a good one….

2. Stick a kickboard or your hand into the water at the wall when a swimmer approaches the wall.  They will see your hand, and stop to see that you are at the wall.  Then ask them if you can circle swim with them

3. Circle swimming is swimming on the right at all times.  Its just like driving in the U.S. and its the best choice

4. Swim a few laps and see if you can keep up with the speed of the lane.  If you are too slow or too fast, find another lane.  There is nothing worse than being in a lane with someone who you are passing every lap.  Its almost as bad as being the person who is passed!  So if you aren’t at the right speed: MOVE

5. Do not do strokes that can harm others.  If you are circling with a large group (or even one not so hot swimmer) avoid doing butterfly.  Your stroke is too wide and its VERY DANGEROUS.  I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve been whacked in the face by a flying arm of a passerby.  Combine this with your speed and goggles…ouch. Major ouch. Just say no to fly if you aren’t alone

6. Pay attention to your partners.  In the fast lane its not uncommon to get in with someone ( like me) who does speed workouts.  This means I stop now and then, watch the clock, and try to pace against the clock.  This can take some getting used to for both partners, so just make sure you spot well and don’t go barreling into each other at the wall.

7. Enjoy your swim, have fun, and when you get out, say thanks to the other swimmer and wish them a good rest of their swim. smile…it really works!

An addition: 8. EAT….Having not swam for most of the summer, I forgot how hungry swimming makes you.  No wonder I was so thin in high school!  I was swimming more than twice what I do now, and faster.  Time to go raid my desk and see what kind of munchies I can find to hold me over until lunch!


From rainy, dreary New England..have a great day!


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