Thursday, September 2, 2010

Charm School

Don't get me wrong, by no means am I trying to go off on my high horse here, clearly I am no model of manners or etiquette, but at least I try.

As I am sure most of you do, I spend a great deal of time in pools and riding my bike.  While much of my cycling is done indoors (I have professed my appreciation for the trainer here before), almost every time I ride outside, I ride at least a portion of the ride with others.  When it comes to swimming however, virtually EVERY swim session requires me to interact with other swimmers.  For the most part, I do this on purpose.  I swim masters because the people there push me to swim harder than I would if I was doing my own workout.  In truth I get my ass handed to me. On days I don't swim masters, I often try and swim with a couple guys at the local pool for the same reason.  If not, it is an extremely rare day that I am not sharing a lane with at least 2 or 3 others.  Whatever the case, this interaction requires a certain etiquette be followed to ensure that everyone has an enjoyable and worthwhile workout and in the case of cycling, a safe one as well.

This morning's masters workout has spawned this post.  For the most part, a masters workout is pretty well defined so far as rules and etiquette goes.  You get in the lane you normally swim in, you know the swimmers around you and where you fall in the pace line.  If I swim a workout time I normally don't swim, or with a different masters squad, I try and feel it out as much as possible in the warm up and then place myself conservatively to ensure I don't slow anyone down.  Today a girl I have never seen before showed up at masters.  She took up the spot behind me.  In the warm up she hit my feet a few times.  When we were given the main set, I gave her the opportunity to go ahead of me and she didn't take it.  The set was 2(6x150) alternating each 150 faster and slower.  On the second round she hit my feet a few times on the slower intervals. At the wall I asked her if she wanted to jump ahead and she did.  This is where it got interesting.

She swam that 150, then abruptly sat out the next one.  There was no "rest" between the 150s so this created a big gap I had to try and close to get back to the feet of the guy I was originally behind.  At the wall before the next one she was hanging on the wall when I got there and it was her time to push off if she was going to jump back in.  She didn't, and was talking to another swimmer, so I went.  Out of nowhere, she pushed off swam into me and pushed her way past me when I stopped.  I was literally laughing to myself as she swam by and I treaded water in the middle of the lane.

So I figured I would start a list of things people do while swimming that are examples or poor etiquette / things that piss you off / things one should NOT do.

1.  If you are gonna pull ahead of someone in a masters workout, be able to stay ahead of them and do the WHOLE workout or at lest finish the interval.
2.  If someone swims past you, take up the spot behind them, and if at the next break you think you can go in front, ask them.
3.  When sharing a lane in a non-masters workout, swim free, back or kick. Save breast, fly, whatever you call that flopping, flailing, lookslikeyouaredrowning mess of a stroke for when you have the lane alone or with just one other.
4.  Abide by the "Fast" "Medium" "Slow" signs for each lane.  Don't go in the fast lane just because there are fewer people in it if you are not Fast.

5.  If you're gonna kick, let others go before you at each wall.
6.  Realize the obvious:
  Got a story to share or rule to add?


  1. A timely post, since I had a swim test yesterday and was therefore using the lap swim pool instead of going to masters. There I was, swimming alone in the lane, on one side only, when suddenly I was joined by a man without asking who proceeded to circle-swim and cause a head-on collision. The best part was, though he looked like a good swimmer and not someone new to this, he had no idea he'd done anything wrong.

  2. Ummm... I would have had a few words with her. Not that I would chew her out (that doesn't work), but she needs to understand the "rules". If my feet get touched by someone more than once and they will not go in front of me then I say something. Every once in a while I have issues at the pool as well and I always confront them. Sometimes when someone pisses me off I swim so much better. As soon as I hit cool down I am over it and life goes one. Good luck with her.

  3. ARGH!!! I would have been so mad. I think nothing bugs me more than when people want to go ahead of you at masters but then "sit out" intervals and create that big gap that you spoke about. Good thing you could just laugh it off though! :)

  4. Out of courtesy, when I am swimming with only one other person in my lane at masters and we're not circle swimming, if they are faster than me I give them 5 sec at the start of each interval so we don't hit hands, splash each other, whatever. It makes flip turns less contentious as well.

    Rude pool etiquette is just the worst and there is really no reason for it to be.

  5. It is NOT that hard for competent swimmers to avoid touching the toes of the person in front of them in a pool. In open water, sometimes its less avoidable, but to do that repeatedly in the pool, regardless if it's a hard or easy set, is just rude.

  6. This cracks me up because pool manners are such a common topic because pools seem to breed bad manners. My biggest pet peeve is the "bobbers" who just take up space and don't really seem to accomplish anything but get really ticked when people actually want to get real swimming done.

  7. UGH!!! That is soo annoying. You pretty much summed it up.

  8. You do not want to swim at my pool: I've got 3 of those type of girls you mentioned, plus a woman who shouts obscenities (though not her fault, she suffers from ticking), a guy who always puts on fins and races me but fails to tell me he's racing me, and then there's the guy who just sits at the bottom of the pool, and that's just naming a few. Somehow, I need to get all of them to read this blog entry. You showed a lot of patience with that girl.

  9. See, this is why I'm afraid of the pool- breaking unspoken rules of etiquette- but at least now it's written- thank you for the enlightenment!!

    Since I am new to swimming and pools and etiquette, a) How do swimmers signal that they want to go around you?, and b) How do you let them by?- Do you stop swimming, move as far right as possible, slow down?

  10. Todd: We go on 5 sec gaps as well. I think this girl wasn't following that rule though.

    Lindsay: Everywhere I have been, the polite method if you want to pass someone is ONE foot touch if it is in the middle of a big set where you won't have a chance on the wall, or, when you will have a chance, just ask at the next break. If they have fallen back and big gap has formed, and they don't get the hint from the foot tap, you can turn early and "jump" them right as the swimmer in front of them goes by you. Make sure there is a BIG gap though. I don't really like this method so I reserve it for only those situations where it is necessary.

  11. Nothing used to bug me more than people who didn't go on 5 sec gap. Or if they were very similar speeds, go on 10 sec gap if you can. But my biggest complaint is when you're swimming, not masters, and someone slower starts right before you get to the wall. Geez. wait until after I turn to go so it's a while until I lap you. And i usually go right before someone gets to the wall if I know they are slower, keeps me from having to pass them.

    We usually just go on the inerval if somene falls out. Meaning if I was 3rd I'd go '3rd' no matter what, if someone fell out, they could get back in line the next repeat. if they kept causing problems, we let the coach know. Not really tattle, but it impacted our workout and the coach was in charge.

    But hey, none of this bothers me anymore ;-)

  12. I will swim behind you and tap your feet!! That's how I roll with Kiet too! ha!

    Welcome to the world of lane ettiquette!!! unbeliveable.

  13. I'm laughing at kiets ghetto Oakland pool!!!!

  14. For non-masters swimming:
    (1) Be aware of the speed of other swimmmers in your lane. Echoing the comment above, don't push off the wall right in front of someone who is going faster.
    (2) Be aware of generally how many people are in the lane and where everybody is in the lane. Don't turn and keep going if someone is about to catch you. If there is a group of 2-3 swimming together, and you have a choice, push off the wall when they are at the farthest point away.
    (3) Move to the side of the lane when you are resting -- don't block the wall for people coming in for a turn.