Sunday, June 14, 2009

Pool Politics

The pool has been busy lately. It doesn't seem to matter what time I show up, I share a lane with a fellow lap swimmer. I recognize most of them, and have swam with some of them more than once. But I prefer my own lane. On the occasion I have my own lane, the selfishness comes out the minute I see a new swimmer approaching and trying to decide where to swim. If it is a woman, especially one I have already chatted with, it doesn't matter. The male regular lap swimmers are another story. But I don't turn them down if they ask. I just cut my work out short and call it a day. Better that than get kicked or have to hug the buoys to stay on my side.

Today, I had an hour and had to swim with two men (not at the same time). Neither of them swam like normal people. The first gent would start out with a breast stroke and then midway switch to a side-stroke or a crawl. It made it hard for me to time when I should begin my lap or predict how to pause just enough to let him slide past me without hitting each other. And he was a lane hog. I literally was bumping my nose up against the lane divider.

After he left, I had a lane to myself for awhile until one of the swim instructors asked me to give up my lane for her swim class (really, the class schedule was supposed to be posted so I could know how many lanes were available) and share with the guy to my right. I knew him and had to share with him before, and I knew it would be unorthodox but at least he was predictable. He didn't do flip turns (neither do I) but he had a system where he would push off the wall of the pool and swim underwater, then surface, stand up walk two steps and then begin his lap. Whenever I see him do this, it strikes me as cheating by shaving off several feet every lap. How could he even say he actually swam a mile when part of the time he floated and waded? And yeah, he's faster but anyone would be if they didn't swim the whole lap.

I finished a little over a half mile and headed to the showers. I wasn't done yet--I felt like I could swim a lot more but I had enough of the clowns I had to swim with. I kept my suit on as I washed my hair and then remembered that Dennis had said he might head to the hot tub, so I went back to the pool to check to see if he was there. He wasn't. Nobody was. All the lanes were empty. It was so tempting to put my cap and goggles back on and jump back in. However, I told my husband I would be done in an hour, and I had a lot to do today. Aarggh.

I checked the time. It was 12:30 on a Saturday. It is always busy around this time on this day of the week. I usually avoid Saturdays at the pool like the plague. And I pushed and pushed Hubs out the door because I wanted to avoid the afternoon weekend crowd. We arrived at 11:30, which is an hour later than I wanted, only to find every lane had two swimmers in it as it has been the fifth day in a row when I tried to get the non-peak pool time and find myself wrong yet again.

Sometimes I handle this badly and other times I handle it well. A few days ago, I was so dismayed to see that I would have to wait almost a million years before I would even get to share a lane. Lap swimmers are notoriously in the water for nothing less than an hour, and some go way longer than that. So, I sat on the sidelines, feeling like I got left out at the school dance. What was worse, I walked up to one woman to ask if I could share her lane and I turned around for one second to put my earplugs in and some lout jumped in and took the place I requested. What the...!! So, I went to the sidelines to feel sorry for myself again.

After sitting in the water for a few minutes, I decided that my bad attitude wasn't worth it and that I had to change it. I did not want to make an unnecessary fuss and the only person I was hurting with my anger was myself. So I took a chill pill and just waited. Amazingly, I didn't have to wait long. The lady I wanted to share with quit and was coming over to use the ladder to get out. I asked her how her swim was, and that question launched into a chat about how often she swam and how many years (she was in really good shape for 63 and had been swimming regularly for 20 years), and a few questions about how she was able to keep her rhythm, breathe, etc... And in the midst of our chat, another guy came out and took her empty place in the lane that I was coveting. I decided that I was there to have a good time and that my type A personality was going to have to get used to it, and talking with this expert lady swimmer was worth waiting a little longer.

We finished talking after only ten more minutes and by that time, a spot next to a little Asian lady opened up and she was a better lane partner--sometimes I didn't even know we passed each other, she slipped right by without a splash or a ripple. Our paces matched and she didn't take up any room and she didn't do any weird manuevers before or after or during her laps. And thanks to her flourescent pink goggles and swim cap, I could see her coming a mile away. Waiting does have its rewards.

Because of the economy, there are a lot of people not working and filling their time by going to the pool. I am going to have to get used to it. Or have the lifegaurd text me when a lane is ready for me. But I don't think that will happen. I will just have to wait.

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