Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Public Lap Pools are like High School Lunch Rooms

Imagine, it's your first day of high school, and you are heading to the cafeteria for your lunch hour. You have your tray of food, and scan the room... jocks at a table, preppy girls at another, weirdo's at another, etc. You make your way to a table, hoping you'll fit in when you sit down. We were all there... the self consciousness thoughts, hoping desperately you will be accepted, walking past table after table wondering if people are staring at you, and if that whisper you caught was referring to you. Now imagine yourself, making that walk in a bathing suit, with people staring up at you from designated lanes. 

You can see in their eyes a glimmer of hesitation, and you know they are thinking "Do not get in my lane".  So, to save the rest of you from possibly ruining someone's workout, annoying them, embarrassing yourself, preventing you from getting in over your head and give you an idea of where you can start your swim workout, I have broken down into categories the types of swimmers you will find on an average day at an average pool.

My pool has five lap lanes. On any given night, four out of the five lanes are doubled up (2 people to the lane). Most lanes are filled with the Uber-Jock (also known as the Ironman, or the Super Triathlete... or "Elites" if we are using technical racing terms) They are most easily identified by their multi colored swim caps touting the last Ironman they competed in, their Swedish goggles that they wear because they heard all the Olympians like them, and their head to toe body suits. They will have a gamut of materials with them at the pool's edge. Fins, Stroke Paddles, Pull Buoy, Kickboard, a bottle of power ade or some other form of electrolyte drink, and their very precise workout regiment, usually wrapped in a plastic bag or possessing some other form of water proofing. The Elites are pretty much untouchable. Unless you are of their caliber, don't even think about thinking about getting into a lane with them. They won't share, and in the off chance they decide to get into a lane with you... be prepared.. if you are not as experienced of a swimmer, they will over power you, intimidate you, hog the lane, and make you feel like you are swimming in oceanic waters with a category 4 hurricane coming in. Usually if an Elite tries to share a lane with me, I just leave. Its not worth the hassle for me.
(:Sidenote: Women Elites are a hundred times easier to share with, much nicer, less arrogant, and much more respectful of space) If you have to share...choose a woman Elite over a man Elite.

After the elites, you have career swimmers, also technically know as "Masters Swimmers". These are the types that swim on a daily basis as their form of exercise. Most of them swam in college, and have continued on into their professional lives.  A "Master Swimmer" is group that meets at most gyms and Y's, usually 3 times a week for 2 hours.  They swim intense regimens to stay in shape and compete against other Masters Swim Clubs once a month.

  If you were applying them to another avenue of exercise, they would be your step-aerobics or Pilates 3 kind of people.  They usually can be identified by their lap-swim specific bathing suits, goggles (just your run of the mill Speedo's, Nike, TYR etc- that can be purchased at Dicks or Keifer Swim Shop), water bottles, kick boards, fins, paddles etc. They are in the pool to git'er done. If you are not an experienced swimmer, or can not swim more than a stroke without stopping, this is another "table" you don't want to sit at. If you have to, they are much easier to swim with than the elites... but should also be avoided if you are not of their caliber.

After career swimmers, you have your regular or seasoned swimmers. They are usually just a slight step down from the career folk. They are usually seasoned swimmers either just getting back  into the sport, or have developed enough swimming acumen to be fast enough and strong enough to complete a full swim workout. Seasoned swimmers look pretty much like career swimmers, but they usually are not wearing signature lap suits (the ones that are cross backed and designed to help repel water and high necked). They are usually wearing average suits you can find at any department store. They will be experienced enough to be doing flip turns, watching the sprint clock to time their passes. The only difference between the seasoned swimmer and the career swimmer is time. They are slower than the career swimmer, and have shorter passes (ie a career swimmer can usually go at least 400 yards before breaking or switching to a different stroke or focus) a seasoned swimmer will usually swim in smaller groupings.. a seasoned swimmer just getting started again will usually swim in 100 yard passes, and move up to 200 yard passes and beyond.

Seasoned and Career swimmers are the most compatible for lane - share.

After the seasoned swimmer, you have the water aerobic folk, or the ones who swim at a glacial pace just to say they are swimming. Usually are the easiest to share lanes with, but if you are of the seasoned or career category, they are the most frustrating to share with next to elites, because of said glacial pace. You can identify them by their bloated swim trunks, or the suits with skirts, their ginormous Wal-Mart goggles, and no swim cap. They also are not familiar usually with pool etiquette and do not bother to keep to circle swim or side/side and instead take up the whole lane and don't pay attention to you while you are swimming and end up running into you repeatedly.

Next up would be the hopeless cases. These are the ones who can't put their face in the water, who flap around back and forth up and down the lanes and believe they are getting a good swim workout. If you are scoping lanes.. these are usually the ones to wait by, as these hopeless swimmers tire easily, and usually don't spend more than ten minutes in a lane before exiting with a "wow, what a workout" remark to you as they get out...as if you and them are in the same league.

So... in this corner..... at 5'9 weighing in at - NOYB.... iiiiitts Millie!
Using a Speedo Silicone cap, Speedo Vanquisher goggles, Speedo Pull Boy, TYR Paddles, TYR Kickboard, Fins ... and a bathing suit not from any reputable swimming store (because they do not go up that large...bastards)

That's it from this "Seasoned" Swimmer for today!


Wisconsin13 said...

So Funny! I just blogged about swimming and my first visit to a pool in a LONG time to work out. Love the lunchroom metaphor.