It has recently come to my attention that several people did not like a few things I mentioned in my previous post. I apologize if I offended anyone personally. I was not attacking anyone personally and perhaps my humor on the topic was not well received. Perhaps, I could have chose my words more wisely, but in all seriousness pool and/or lane etiquette is there for a reason. And that reason is for SAFETY. I lifeguarded for three years in high school. Between my swimming experiences and my lifeguard experiences I have pretty much seen it all, but last Sunday was a completely new experience. Now, I have absolutely no problem swimming with anyone in a lane, whether they are fast or slow. For example, I swam tonight it a lane with a local high school swimmer who regularly lapped me because I was slow. I also swam with a 10 year old girl who I often lapped. We made it work because we followed the rules.
The rules are generally posted on the wall at every pool. I hope that everyone reads them, but that is probably not the case. There were 50+ people in the pool on Sunday. Too many for two lifeguards. As a former lifeguard, this is a dangerous situation, and one that the lifeguards at this pool are not particularly use to. I talked to one of them after my swim to address my concerns for safety.
I was at the pool for a little over an hour. I like to be in and out of the pool in an hour’s time because I know pool time is scarce and I want as many people to be able to get their workout done. During that time there were anywhere from 12-20 people trying to lap swim (plus the other 30 or so in the open pool area). During my high school swim years I regularly swam with about 10 people to a lane. I can deal with many people in a lane, but there is certain etiquette that needs to be followed to ensure everyone’s safety. Swimming is a dangerous sport. You can drown and you can die. It happens, and I hope it doesn’t happen to anyone I know.
When entering a lane you should always make yourself known to the person(s) in the lane swimming. Don’t just jump in and go. If it is just you and another person then you can split a lane and stick to that side for the duration of the workout or until another person enters the lane. When a third person enters the lane then you begin swimming in a circle. Circle swimming is done counter-clockwise (you’d be surprised how many times I have seen people go the wrong way and then they crash in the middle). If you need to take a break then try and squeeze to the side of the pool lane so that the swimmers have room on the wall to turn. During my swim on Sunday I was not given any wall space to turn off of at one point because it was being blocked. Also, while people are swimming you don’t stand or stop and tread water for no reason. People, like myself who is in the zone, might not see you and swim into you causing injury. If you need to practice flip turns, please try to do it when someone is not swimming into you or during your laps. Also, if you are floating on your back on a pool noodle gossiping with your girlfriends, please either stop and swim or move outside of the lane. Lanes are reserved for people who are trying to swim laps. The open pool area is reserved for floating around and having yourself a good time.
I have been swam over by several swimmer in high school and have swam over a couple myself in the past. I, by no means, wish to drown the person, but you learn pretty quickly how to work with a group of swimmers. There will always be someone faster than you and someone slower than you. I am no Michael Phelps, but I can hold my own in a pool. I enjoy swimming with faster people (generally HS, college or master swimmers) because they push me harder to become a better swimmer. I have no problem if a slower swimmer or a newbie would like to join me in a lane. I will answer any questions politely too. Just don’t be stupid and put yourself and anyone else in danger. Most pools have cones that mark swim ability levels. I try my best to find the correct lane that suits my swimming ability. The markers are there for your safety and also it is no fun to get in the fast lane and realize that you don’t quite make the cut. I’ve been there. I moved to a different lane because I was not comfortable. Please use commonsense.
As far as swim attire. Certainly, you are allowed to wear what you please, but please remember your audience and use discretion. I saw too many Ta ta’s fall out of some women’s little bikinis than I ever wanted too. There were also many young children at the pool. Personally, I don’t like seeing people’s private areas and I certainly don’t want anyone seeing mine in a public area. Besides, bikini’s cause drag in the pool. Some swimmer’s want this (i.e. that’s why it’s common to see a swimmer wear two suits at a time during practice), but generally you see women swimmers in a one piece bathing suit. Most pools require you to wear a bathing cap if you hair is longer than your chin. Personally, I think everyone should be required to wear one. It’s for hygiene reasons, just like you should always take a shower before entering the pool and also why you shouldn’t urinate in the pool.
On Sunday after my swim I was in the locker room changing back into my street clothes. There was a mother in the locker room with her son that appeared to be about 8 years old. I had just finished toweling off and about the put my shirt on. The mother yelled at me because my breasts were exposed and her son was staring at them. I smiled politely and reminded her this was the women’s locker room. In my head, I was definitely saying something completely different. I was not trying to flash her son. I was trying to change. I’m sorry, but 8 year old boys do not belong in a women’s locker room. Next time, please have your son use the men’s room or try to find a separate family changing room. I understand that some pools do not have this option, but please do not yell at me because I did nothing wrong.
When I am swimming I get in the zone and just want to be left alone. On Sunday I was not in the zone because I was very frustrated by the lack of commonsense at the pool. When stupid people do stupid things then bad things can happen. One summer I was lifeguarding at a local swimming hole. On really hot days we could easily get over 1000 people in one day. Those days were tough because you really had to pay attention because things can turn dangerously very quickly. I remember one day there were two boys, about 12 years old I would say, that were out on the raft playing. They started doing backflips. Flips of any sorts were not permitted in the park for safety reasons. We had a three strikes and your out rule at the park. We warned the boys once, and then the second time we called them in for a 5 minute time out at the lifeguard stand where we informed them the dangers of backflips. About an hour later one of the boys attempted another one and landed head first onto the raft. Luckily, the boy was fine and only ended up with a bloody nose and a big bump on the head. We found the boys mother (who was sleeping in the sun and not watching her children like she should have) and informed the two of them that they needed to leave the park for the day because her son was not following the rules. This situation could have been much worse. The boy could have easily broke his neck and died. There are rules for a reason.
I was very frustrated when I wrote my last post. I tried using humor to get my points across. Perhaps some people just didn’t get it or just thought it was in poor taste? The beauty of this country is that we have the freedom of speech. Do I think I could have said things differently? Of course. Will I take back what I said? No. If you want to call me stupid or not want to be my friend, that’s fine. Everyone is entitled to their opinions.
If you would like more information on proper etiquette then I suggest that you check out this website: http://www.cartegic.com/pooletiquette.htm.