Rage Against the Chlorine

I headed to the local rec center this week to get my regular lunch hour swim in. It’s typically a great time to swim as the pool isn’t very busy and it breaks up my work day a bit.

I start my swim like anyone should; strut to the deck like I’m about to race Michael Phelps, do some arm swings to psych out the other swimmers and then stand on the deck sizing up the lanes.

At this time of the day I usually get a lane to myself, but this day was a little busier than usual so I was going to have to pick where I was going to plunge.

The lanes at this pool, like most pools, are arranged by speed. The outside lanes nearest the walls are marked “SLOW”, the next two in are “MODERATE” and the two middle lanes are marked “FAST.”

I’m not some great Olympic swimmer or even an ex-high school swimmer or anything, but here at the local recreation watering hole I’m decent enough to swim in the fast lane so that’s where I’m headed.

And that’s when I notice it. In not one, but both lanes marked “FAST,” is a swimmer that is anything but.

I look to the “MODERATE” lanes for other options, but there too find gym monkeys in their board shorts monopolizing the ends of the lanes and of course in the “SLOW” lanes are a bunch of cotton-tops chatting about their grandchildren.

I make my decision and hop into the moderate closest to me and hope I can get my workout completed without much struggle. It’s not like I really have a choice; it’s way too cold for open water swimming and I don’t have a 25m lap pool tucked away in my basement. So in I go. End of story. Or is it?

This has got me thinking. Are people aware of pool etiquette? That there are “rules of pool engagement?” This pool even had a little notice on the wall about lane etiquette, yet these people seem to think that these don’t apply to them. Is swimming the sport of rebels? Can’t be a badass in everyday life so I’m going to break the rules of the pool.

As I pondered this further I realized there are a few different types of swimmers to watch out for at a fast lane near you.

The Apple-Picking Sidestroker: the “sidestroke” is not a swim stroke buddy

The Wide-legged Breaststroker: sooo wide, you can’t go around it

The Zig-zagging Backstroker: no rearview mirror

The Lane hog: could actually be a decent swimmer, but he got there first so it’s his lane

The Agro-female: not nice, no matter how good she is

The Jock in boardshorts: he can swim fast…for 20m, hangs out at the end of the lane showing off his tattoos and then pushes off the wall JUST as you are about to

The Ex-Varsity swimmer: can have one of many body types depending on how “ex” he is, but can swim every stroke with ease

Then there’s The Triathlete: has his work out on a piece of paper in a ziplock, owns his own pull-buoys, flippers and paddles, only swims freestyle (or “front crawl” to the layman) and watches the clock intently for pace and to make it to his next work out.

With all these different types in the pool, no wonder rules and guidelines breakdown. The problem is that swimming rules can be a bit subjective. There’s no radar trap in the slow lane indicating someone should move to the moderate lane. And what does “FAST” really mean? What if that old guy is picking those apples the fastest he’s ever picked?

I found this little guide online with lane rules. Reading through, it mostly makes sense. I agree with almost all of it except one. If you are ever swimming in a lane with me and need to pass me, do NOT touch my feet! I HATE that! Totally creepy. You might find yourself finishing your swim workout with a bloody nose. Oh, right. That would be considered lane rage.

Lane Rage: a swimmer’s uncontrolled anger that is usually provoked by another swimmer’s irritating act and is expressed in aggressive or violent behavior

Lane Rage is a part of swimming, but is preventable. If you are reading this and you are siding with me on getting the slower, older patrons to move the hell over then you should be understanding. Try to ask politely before you swim past trying to splash water in that breast-stroker’s face. If you are reading this and think that I’m elitist and you have every right to be in whichever lane you choose, be prepared for retaliation.



6 thoughts on “Rage Against the Chlorine

  1. The Elementary Backstroker. Combines all the worst features of The Wide Legged Breaststroker and the Zigzagging Backstroker. When it comes to pool monkeys and cotton-tops, never underestimate the power of a poorly executed flipturn (only kind I can do). Your post serves as an additional reminder why I like being part of a Master’s Program.

  2. How about the The Wide Arm Swinger –it’s the guy from the next lane that actually clocks your hand with his fist from the lane next to you. Ouch! Control those swinging arms buddy! 🙂

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  4. Henlsey

    The seahorse – legs hanging almost vertically, head well above water at all times, arms make mini breaststroke movements that propel the “swimmer” marginally faster than the prevailing current. Gets annoyed when lightly splashed despite being in a huge hole in the ground full of water. Often travel in pairs communicating without pause.
    The Jolly Bobber – wears a bobbly swim hat like my mom wore 40 years ago, optionally adopts Seahorse posture but critically moves no faster than prevailing current. Some, despite random limb movements, actually remain stationary.
    The Starfish – limbs splayed as wide as possible to occuoy full lane width, moves imperceptibly, often sideways.
    The Enigma – saw this one today, lying on back, sculling with hands, moving feet first. In the f*£^ing fast lane!

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