Swimming Woes

It has only been 9 weeks since my knee starting having its little hissy fit, but already I feel as though I could write a book about things that irritate me about swimming. Perhaps part of the rage is because I managed a paltry 1.3 mile run today before I had to throw in the towel. Instead of rattling off a million pool-related quibbles, however, I’ll settle for venting about only 3.

1. Wave goodbye to nice hair.

Appreciating the softness of natural hair is still kind of novel to me. From my early teens I would bleach, colour, re-bleach, re-colour, and generally abuse my hair to the point that it was entirely normal to expect it to break off sporadically in chunks. Then I settled for black, and rode the goth train for a good half decade, eventually reaching the point where I no longer wanted to be a fat, chain-smoking, heavy-drinking, sleep-deprived mess. One of the things I stopped doing is dying my hair, which entailed a year of horrendous regrowth; a stage during which not many photographs survived, thankfully, and those that still exist were taken in badly lit gay bars in London:

Half 'n' half hair, which you can maybe just make out.

Half ‘n’ half hair, which you can maybe just make out.

After a solid year of mainly tying my hair back and ignoring how terrible it looked (thanks, friends, for not telling me about colour-stripping products), I ended up with soft, golden tresses. Sometimes, still, I’ll play with my hair and marvel how little like straw it feels.

At least I did, until I started swimming.

It took me less than a week to realize I NEEDED to buy a cap, and I now wet my hair under the shower before putting in on and hitting the pool (I don’t know why, but I always did this when I was on a swim team, and do it without thinking – there might be a reason, there might not). I have even had to go back to using conditioner, which I haven’t bothered using since my hair grew out, because it made it too oily. And still – my hair smells chloriney (after double washing), all day, and feels course and brittle. Fabulous.

2. Some people obviously do not understand what ‘Fast Lane’ means.

Before I sound like a complete dick, I am not saying I belong in the fast lane in every pool.  I don’t.  But the pool I usually use?  The 20m pool that has retired men and women using underwater weights or walking lengths?  I belong in the fast lane of that pool.

What doesn’t belong in the fast lane of that pool?  Pretty much 90% of the people I see using it, which means the people that should be using it are pushed into the slower lane, or the ‘Gen-Pop’ section, where they inevitably become tangled in someone else’s legs/get squished to the wall/give up and relax in the steam room.

The other week there was a guy who got into the fast line and started crab walking from side to side.  Crab walking.  Allow me to illustrate via crappy Paint drawing:

PoolstorybroThis is simply not fast lane appropriate.  Neither is not using tumble turns if you’re swimming crawl.  Neither is adjusting your string bikini whilst chatting to your friend in the jacuzzi.

3. Lane etiquette is not always adhered to.

Thankfully, The pool is rarely filled to capacity, and there are usually only 2 people per lane, during which time there is an unspoken rule that you take half a lane each and stay out of each other’s way.  Perfect.  Apart from when some lady decides to indulge in the most bizarre interpretation of breaststroke I have ever witnessed.  I need to employ my bitchin’ Paint skills once more to fully illustrate the leg position.  What even is this??

crazy breaststroke ladyYou do not need to have had swimming lessons to know that this is not correct.  I was kicked several times during my session with the frog lady, and thankfully a space in the actual fast lane became available during my last kilometer, so I was able to avoid a minor concussion.

On the one occasion I have made it to the Aquatics Centre for a swim it was much busier.  Generally people stuck to an appropriate lane (slow, medium, or fast), and I jumped into a medium lane to crack out 45 minutes or so.  I could see the swimmers in the fast lane next to me would clearly be on my feet the whole time if I switched lanes, but I was still overtaking someone in my lane every 2 lengths or so, which was mildly frustrating, but alright since there was generally enough room.  Then, when I was about 2 seconds from the wall, a guy who had been resting at the wall for the past couple of minutes chose to push off right in front of me and break into a freaking breaststroke.  It’s a good thing people can’t hear my swearing underwater, because I was not impressed.  It was like a tractor pulling out in front of a normal car on a single lane road when they could have waited for one more moment and THEN taken off.

Swimming road rage is definitely a thing.

Injured runners forced to the pool – what is your beef with swimming?

17 thoughts on “Swimming Woes

  1. OMG, you sound exactly like me, I have serious swimming pool rage, and as for the hair thing, I know exactly what you mean. I love reading about your running but this post is the best yet. I do feel for you, hope you get fixed soonn

  2. I am currently uninjured but swim once a week as cross-training / my pitiful plea to my knees to not hate me. I am familiar with the merry hell of ITBS. I do breast stroke at a marginally quicker rate than the old ladies, and in my pool that means that I belong in either the slow lane (at 6.30am) or the medium lane (at pretty much any other time).

    Here’s what I don’t get. My pool has three lanes — slow, medium, fast. The lanes take up half the width of the pool. If you want to chat, float, do kicking exercises, play with flotation devices, generally do anything that isn’t swimming laps, there is a whooooooole other half of a pool right there. (Why you’d come to the pool for a chat at 6.30am in November in Glasgow is a different question, but I’ve seen ’em.) Given all that embarrassment of space, why oh why do people think that the place to have a chat is while standing three abreast at the end of the lane that people are trying to turn around at?

    I have discovered that I am a much angrier swimmer than I am a runner…

    • They must be the same people that decide the middle of the sidewalk is simply THE BEST place to stop and catch up with someone they’ve bumped into, whilst holding about 12 enormous shopping bags.

      I’ll let you in on something else. Crab walk man? He does it with a huge, creepy smile on his face, and if I happen to go for a breath when he’s right next me me, there he is, smiling his crazy crab man smile down at me. Weird…

    • There is a (probably way underpaid) lifeguard that is there sometimes. I wish, just once, he’s come over and say something like, “Excuse me, sir, but if you wish to crab walk all morning, would you kindly opt to do so in any other lane than the one people are trying to swim quickly in.”

      Or maybe he already has, and the old guy produced pincers and attacked. Who knows?

  3. We have one man who does a swim stroke I call the worlds fastest octopus. I swear in those moments he somehow has supranumery limbs.

    He also looks like Keith Lemon and his speedos are shiny blue. That makes it funnier.

  4. Tip for the hair situation: I wet my hair in the lockerroom and then put conditioner in it, pull it back, and put my cap on. It helps protect my hair from the chlorine AND seems to make it extra soft. Just don’t take your cap off in the pool! The conditioner also seems to wear out my cheap latex swim caps a little faster, but it’s worth it.

  5. the people who used to p**s me right off (apart from the random person who pushes off a millisecond ahead of you and then swims slowly as you mentioned!) when i used to swim (enforced injury break from running too) were the ones who decided to come to the baths during the ‘lane swimming’ times but instead sit at the end of the lanes chatting with their pals blocking the whole end of the pool so you couldnt even do a full length “if you want to swim then swim, if you want to chat with your mate then f**k right off to the café out front”
    oh and stupid swimming pools rules which state that you cant wear flippers in the pool even for training drills cuz you might hurt or seriously injure someone!! flippers = the new terrorist weapon of choice

    • I’ve seen the kind of foam between-the-leg things for pull drills, and also foam kick boards, but no flippers. I used to love flippers, and those flat plastic paddles for your hands – it felt like you were going at warp speed!

  6. *sigh* The length of my local pool. On the one hand, I’m getting really good at flip turns. On the other hand, I have to flip turn every 18 metres. Happily, though, it’s never crowded, so I almost always have a lane to myself, or only share with a sweet older man who is doing weights in the shallow end and moves the hell out of my way.

  7. http://www.boots.com/en/Boots-Sun-Swim-and-Gym-Protection-Masque-for-Normal-Hair-150ml_1262103/?cm_mmc=pla-_-google-_-PLAs-_-Boots+Shopping+-+Category+-+Beauty

    The answer to that hair problem – I am a blonde. Blonde plus swimming is not fun. I slather my hair in this stuff, stick my cap on and then use the same line in shampoo once I am out the pool and my hair is still silky soft and lovely. Even the hairdresser said she was impressed at the condition of my hair given my swimming habits!

    • Thanks for the tip. Seeing as the doc told me yesterday that this is going to be a much longer hiatus from running than I had hoped, I’ll be sampling the masque.

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