Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Swim Rant...

...But first, a little bit of a back-story.  Here's April by the numbers:

Volume ended up being just under 43 hours for the month.  Cycling volume?  I'm happy with the month.  Running volume?  It's a little low for me, but close.  Swimming volume?  This was a complete failure.

I manage to come up with a new excuse every month as to why I'm not getting in more yardage, so here's the one for April.  Going to the pool just plain blows.  I hate walking into the pool area and seeing that each lane is packed to the gills - 3, sometimes 4 swimmers in each lane.  I hate it when you are forced to circle swim with someone who is doing the doggie paddle 15 yards at a time and then standing in the middle of the pool for 5 minutes before they carry on for the last 10 yards.  I hate it when a bunch of kids show up and start playing Marco Polo with no regard for anyone.  And I hate it that gym management does nothing about it, despite complaints from many.

I need to become a better swimmer.  And on the rare occasions when the stars align and I'm able to get a smooth workout in, each one is better than the last.  But the good workouts happen maybe once a week.  The other workouts are so frustrating that I almost want to start drowning the other people in my lane.  At this point, it's usually best to cut my losses and leave the pool, regardless of how far into my workout I am.  Sometimes I don't even bother logging them in my training plan, that's how bad those sessions are.

Pool Enforcer
Lately I've taken on the role of self serving pool vigilante.  I can't help it, because there is so much inconsiderate behavior going on.  Example - Yesterday the pool wasn't overly crowded, so I decided to wait for half a lane to open up instead of being the 3rd wheel in another lane.  I don't like 3 to a lane, so I try not to even consider asking others to like it.  After about 10 minutes, a lane opened up.  So I walked over to the pool deck and unpacked my kick board and other stuff and then walked back to a bench to put my swim bag away.  While my back was turned (which was maybe 15 seconds), some other guy came out of nowhere, jumped into my lane and pushed my stuff aside so he (get ready for it) had a place to put his bottle of Mountain Dew.  This was total BS and I immediately called him out on it.
Me:  Hey man, what's up?

Him:  Excuse me?

Me:  You just took my lane.

Him:  I didn't know...

Me:  What do you mean you didn't know?  You just moved my stuff so you could put your sports drink down.

Him:  I'm new to this swimming stuff, I just want to get a quick swim in.

Me:  Awesome, but you need to wait.

Him:  Why?

Me:  Because I've been waiting awhile for a lane to open up.  I don't recall seeing you around until about 5 seconds ago.  Things work a certain way here.

Him:  Well what are the rules?

Me:  The rules are that you need to be considerate.  If we were upstairs (the weight room), would you walk over to me while I was using, say the shoulder press, and pull me off the bench if I was between sets?

Him:  No...

Me:  Well that's kind of what you just did here, and I gotta say I'm kind of bummed about it.

Him:  It's cool dude, I'm getting out (leaves lane).
But I'm on fire by now....and the small victory gained by him leaving was not enough justice.
Me (to the older woman, who for all I know was a nun, that was using the other side of the lane):  NO ONE else in this lane.  I'm sick of this s**t.  You OK with that?
That last line is pretty classy, huh?

Well I'm sorry sweet old lady, but this stuff is really starting to make me mad.  Especially since there are like 3 or 4 of these signs hanging on the walls:

Lane 1 is for slow lap swimming or water aerobics
Lane 2 & 3 are for lap swimming ONLY
2 swimmers to split a lane 
More than 2 swimmers to a lane by mutual consent of all swimmers.

These rules are pretty clear, right?  Then what's the problem - Do swimmers have a 72.3% lower literacy rate than non-swimmers?  Doubtful.  So it's a mystery.

My swim volume is bound to go up in May and for the rest of the summer because the weeknight OWS groups start up in the next couple weeks.  But if I've learned anything about swim training over the winter is that it's all about drills Drills DRILLS and repeats Repeats REPEATS.  Obviously this is tough in the open water.  Maybe I need to switch pools.  But is the next one going to be any better?  I doubt that there is a kick-ass pool that no one knows about waiting for me in it in this city of over 200,000 people.  It's really kind of a bum out.

So, what's your pool situation?  Can you at least empathize with my pool vigilante tendencies?


Fat for a Triathlete said...

Ooooh as a former pool lifeguard, I am with you on the pool vigilante...
Although, must be an Australian thing, we tend to be able to swim FAR more people to a lane!

But then again, the lifeguards police it as well.

I swore when a grand dad got in my lane and started doing breaststroke while I was doing sprints, and the lifeguard quickly pointed him to the slow lane (which was empty...)

We often swim 5 or 6 strong in a lap lane though. Same as road rules, keep left unless overtaking sort of thing...

But, I've done it as a swimmer as well. Especially with kids who get in the lanes... nothing makes my blood boil more!!

Jennifer said...

Our pool is closed down for a bit to clear up a fire so my swimming plans have been thwarted, your story is very funny if not sad. Kudos to you for getting on that guy. From my point of view if I was that guy, you would just have to look at me crooked and I would go scurrying away!

Pahla said...

You have my symapthies about your crappy pool situation! Mine doesn't get quite that crowded, thankfully - I hate sharing lanes! Good for you, letting that guy know he did something wrong. I'd like to think that sometimes people aren't assholes, they just don't know better.
Excellent bike and run numbers - your April is like my entire 2011!

Ironman By Thirty said...

You were totally in the right. Way to speak up. It would have been funnier if the older woman had actually said that last line though. haha

I'm surprised he was allowed to bring Mountain Dew into the pool. Or did he not read, the "No food or drink" rule either??

I'm lucky enough to rarely have to share a lane and when I do it is only 2 to a lane. Even so, I can't tell you the number of people that just "appear" in my lane. I am a pretty observant swimmer. If I see a person sitting on the edge of the pool, I'll stop, acknowledge them, agree on which side to swim on, and continue it. Common courtesy.

And I'm totally with you on the whole slow people in the slow lanes. They used to put out slow, medium, and fast signs at my pool but stopped for some reason. If one more person starts doing the breaststroke or butterfly (even worse) in a shared lane, I may be forced to tie their arms in a knot.

Christi said...

I completely sympathize with your situation. I had to move three times last week because of the walking ladies in the pool. Excuse me, but I was here first. I don't care if you do need the wall! I can share but don't kick me out because of that!

KovasP said...

Endless Pool, $11,000.

Open Water, free.

I'M Tri-ing said...

Your preaching to the choir. Amen!

I'M Tri-ing said...

Sorry, I meant "You're". I'm a little illiterate.

Unknown said...

This sucks. Might want to research a new gym, might have the same issues but if the management is stronger then those issues are not as apparent.

I got to a LTF and they have 4 pools. 2 for families and 2 dedicated for only lap swimming. AND they do not have life guards for the lap pools so we police ourselves. But rarely are they full and if they are I can usually pick out the one that is going to be quitting.

Master's class is what you really need to do. We can have 4 ppl in a lane and it doesn;t matter b/c everyone knows the rules.

Diana Tries-A-Tri! said...

Please please please come to my pool and regulate! I HATE pretty much all people at my pool. We don't share lanes, but people just crown between you to make their own. Seriously. It's crazy. I get so much pool rage!

A Prelude To... said...

I am so with you!! When people jump into my lane and they question me on why I just karate chopped their head, I tell them that this lane is like a treadmill. They wouldn't jump on someone's treadmill in the middle of a run would they? Well...they damn well better not jump in my lane...or they will get "the chop"!
Don't worry, I make it look like it's a part of my stroke :D

J. L. said...

L-O-V-E-D your post! Swimming, or trying to get in during the right hours sucks for training. And my gym pool is only 20 yards long, so that's an extra blow. But, yes, everything you said is dead on. Can you come to pool sometime and rant? Some of my best swim workouts (and scariest) have been at 4am when no one else is around. The only problem with that is the entire time I'm swimming, every horror movie that involved a crazy person standing at the edge of the lane holding a knife plays in my head. As Dory would say, though "Just keep swimming...just keep swimming..." Lap swimming is a necessary evil.

Unknown said...

I think it's just common courtesy. I have the same types of problem running on a shared use trail that is clearly marked for running and biking. People not in the lane that they should be in. Stopping around blind corners. Running 4 - 5 abreast and not caring that you have to figure out how to get around them.

Unknown said...

Join a masters swim program. I swim at 5:30am Mon, Wed, & Fri. We often have 4 or 5 in the slower lanes and 3 or 4 in the faster lanes. Even the beginners (like I was this January) to group lap swimming are quickly broken in! We will circle swim with 2 swimmers in a lane for the 1st half hour just in case a third shows late.

Open swim hours do suck, I now hate trying to swim laps with folks who aren't "swimmers."

I really agree about the work-outs as well. I trained for a late season tri last year by only swimming open water. I hate chlorine, but I see a HUGE increase in overall fitness from the pool workouts alone since January when I joined the masters program. While coaching is helpful, the group camaraderie of the masters program is an even better incentive for me to swim the workouts and swim them well.

LB said...

classic! at least youre not like the pool policeman at my pool who doesnt even like to swim next to someone in a totally separate lane. our pathetic little pool is only 3 freakin lanes. hes a freak. he likes the side lane, i like the middle lane. i get the stink eye every time i swim in the lane next to him, is my wake just that big that it throws him off????....now i do it just to eff with him!

TRI714 said...

Haven't we spoke about this nightmare before. 24 hr fitness pool = FAILING !!! If you don't do it crack of dawn or wee hours of the night (especially in your town) it will never change.

JessiePants said...

I can see the movie trailer now...a rogue pool enforcer with a kickboard.
I do know what you mean in all seriousness, some people don't know pool etiquette.

Jason said...

Good for you....Patrick Mahoney Pool Cop....

Seriously I check the pool deck before I even go in the locker room to unpack. If there is even 1 person there I don't bother.

Fortunately at 4-5a there is nobody there and I am California Dreaming in the middle lane all alone.

Unknown said...

+1 to finding a masters program. I have been swimming w/ one since Feb and love it. If you have a good one, you will have some good coaching and some good workouts and people to challenge you.

Unknown said...

What's unfortunate is it's not just ignorance of POOL etiquette at play, it's ignorance of ALL etiquette, period.

A lot of people are stupid.

Jim ... 50after40 said...

Ha - awesome! I've had similar discussions at the gym before!

Chris K said...

Yeah, being a triathlete sounds super fun. Is it too late to buy that bike aferall? Swimming in a public pool multiple times per week on a regular basis....woo wee, good times.

valen said...

ha ha ha ha!!!
the last rant was super!
up to 5 people is fine as long as there's a general consensus on the speed of the lane.

Big Clyde said...

I'm with you, P.

Now I have to go outside and tell some kids to get off of my lawn!

Karen said...

Hope you didn't scare the old lady! LOVE IT. It obviously needed to be said, clearly Mountain Dew had no clue... Luckily, I haven't had to deal with too much of that although I tend to swim very early. I know my gym pool can be busy in the evenings. Frustrating!

Petraruns said...

OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOH I so agree. Totally. Our swimming pool has the exact same situation and I hate it. Pet peeve of mine is - we have slow, medium, fast lane. I'm a beginner at this tri thing - I always go in slow or medium. Guys though? They don't have this modesty thing. They're always inadequately plowing through the fast lane. Last week I had enough. Took the fast lane for myself. Enough.
So I can totally relate. Swimmers are not as nice as runners.


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