8 Rules for Swimming

>> Wednesday, September 25, 2013

I've been back in a pool a bit more recently. And I just found this quick article about 8 points of swimming etiquette, so I thought I'd give my reactions:

1. THE BLACK LINE ZOMBIE. Swimming is an anti-social sport in some regards; we spend hours on end swimming back and forth, lost in our thoughts, often too out of breath between sets and repeats to spend any remaining air on conversation.

During our unending march up and down the pool, it’s easy to get hypnotized by that tiled, black line that is often the only thing that stares us back in the face for the duration of our workout. Just remember to not to fall for its tractor beam and swim up-and-down directly above it, lest you slap a couple teammates with your meat-paddles.

OK, I don't know the last time I spent "hours on end" in the pool. Because I have a life. And job. And family.

But I tend to hop in an empty lane and swim to one side so someone else can hop in with me. I'm no lane hog.

2. I’M NOT TICKLISH, SO THIS ISN’T FUNNY. Okay, I kind of lied. I am ticklish. But just a little. And certainly not in my toes to foot area. Which makes it all the more infuriating when the swimmer behind me – instead of passing – stays tucked in behind me, enjoying a free draft while also trying to instigate a tickle fight.

Not interested, sir.

Not a problem for me... I'm not fast enough to catch anyone in the pool. So you won't find me on your feet. I promise.

3. DON’T MAKE PEE ANNOUNCEMENTS. Look, you and I both know that everyone pees in the pool. It’s not a secret. And while outsiders – rather understandably I would think – imagine we are an insane lot by admitting to the fact that we swim around in pools that we freshly peed in, let’s all just play the deny-deny-deny card on this one.

There are things we don’t ever need to think about. Our parents, doing, you know. Where hot dogs come from. And swimming around in freshly-peed in water.

Wait, people pee IN THE POOL?!? I'm all about peeing in every open water swim that I've ever done (and 90% of races), but I've never peed in the pool! Do I NEED to do that to earn some street cred as a swimmer? If / when I do, I won't announce it. (But the expression on my face might give it away...)

4. STOP PULLING ON MY LANE ROPE. Because when you do, it means that I cannot. (Just kidding! Well, sort of..)

I only swim freestyle (I can't do anything else), and this seems like a back-strokers issue. Not a problem for me.

5. TURN AT THE MIDDLE, OR LEFT CORNER OF YOUR LANE. Just like driving, or walking, or life in the general, observing the rules of the road always makes things go a lot smoother for everyone involved. Less head-on collisions, and fewer fist-waggings.

Circle swimming, although short of traffic fines and reflective signage, has its own set of peculiar customs. Swimming in a circle, for one. Which means not swimming in a rectangle, or worse, a rhombus.

Remember to angle towards that big, black T when swimming into the wall so that the toe-tickler behind you has room to swim into their turn as well.

If you have any common sense at all, you'll pick this up when you circle-swim for the first time. I'm not that bright, and I figured this out all by myself pretty quickly. Yay me.

6. YOU’RE TIRED? THAT’S GREAT. MOVE OVER. You’re bushed. I get it. Swimming is rough stuff. But if you’re gonna sit out a repeat to stretch out a cramped muscle, adjust your goggles, or reread the set, please move your posterior to the far depths of the corner of the lane so that your lanemates can turn unobstructed.

This might be the biggest pet-peeve of mine while swimming at the pool at the Y. If I hop in right after a Masters class, it's not uncommon that some people will stay in the lanes and chat for the majority of my workout!

7. WHAT’S THAT? YOU’RE GOING SLOWER THAN ME? PLEASE, FEEL FREE TO PUSH OFF RIGHT BEFORE I TURN. This is most common during meet warm-ups. You’ll be building up to a good boil, cruising into the wall to do a fantastic, race-speed flip-turn, only to have another swimmer watch you intently swim towards him or her, and then decide to push off right before you turn.

You’re not even halfway through your breakout when you submerge below said swimmer, who looks at you with an expression that can only possibly read: “Derp.”


This is a big deal for "actual" swimmers, but not for little ole' me. I've never had the pleasure of encountering this issue.

8. GRAND THEFT KICKBOARD. Equipment tug-of-wars are never funny – unless you’re not involved. At that point it’s kind of funny. Watching two teammates yank a kickboard back and forth, when the easier solution would be to jump out and get a new one, is an absurd show of pride.

How do you insure that your teammates don’t snipe your stuff when you’re not looking or still swimming? Build a pyramid of your gear at the end of your lane, and if that fails, just make sure you get your hand on the wall first.

Or be like me and never do any kick work even though your kick sucks. Problem solved!

So all that being said, I'm not guilty of any of these. I don't know if that means I'm doing something right or doing something wrong.

And here were 4 "issues" left in the comments of the original article:

- If we have just started a set, do not ask me what number we are on or what the set is. Listen to the coach and then count. For the love of God.

- Sandbagging. That guy you go ahead of and own for 23 out of 25 100s, then on the last two he is suddenly swimming up your butt.

- I know you think you belong in the fast lane, but if I’m lapping you every 200 yards, it’s time to move over.

- Coach said leave "on the top." For those of you that don’t know, that means you push off the wall when the second hand reaches 60. Not 57. Not even 59. You push off at 60!!


Foges 7:32 AM, September 25, 2013  

no one pees in the pool, just snot rockets.

CautiouslyAudacious 8:01 AM, September 25, 2013  

I'm glad I swim in a pool that isn't as busy as this one sounds! The most I usually have to put up with is the aquarobics people giving me dirty looks if I splash to hard in the lane next to them! :-) Please don't pee in the pool it won't give you street cred. open water I agree is fair game though! :-)

Bob Kowalski 9:35 AM, September 26, 2013  

Excellent post, Steve. Swimming is my main form of exercise these days, but I was in my 30's before I began daily swims. I tried to find a local Master's group to workout with, but they were made up of swimmers who were far more advanced than me and made no bones about my not fitting in. I don't want to race or set new speed records, I want to have fun, stay healthy, and meet new people. I have yet to come across a Master's group that is for the more casual swimmer.

Sparklinglady 1:10 PM, September 26, 2013  

don't show up to masters swimming with really bad halitosis. your lane mates don't like being at the wall all wet and in so little clothing in the first place, and then you throw in some horrifying morning mouth with it. terrible.

Anonymous,  3:32 PM, September 26, 2013  

quite right: before morning workouts, drink your coffee, then BRUSH YOUR TEETH!!!! Good God, people, a humid pool environment means static air, and that's deadly when someone brings nasty breath. Intervals are bad enough; it's 1000x worse when you're gasping after a rep and the guy next to you does similar with dinosaur halitosis, and right in your face to boot...

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