Thursday, April 8, 2010

Let's Talk Swimming Etiquette. You've got it or you DON'T

I've been swimming with a Masters group for 5 years now. Honestly, I couldn't do without it. You show up toting some CAN DO attitude, perhaps a fun fresh Splish, jump in  and have your workout spoon-fed to you. What could be better?
I swim at one of the best facilitates in New England if not one in the country. The water is crystal clear and temperate for competition. I don't have to deal with pool noodle wielding  ladies water exercising . The water is too cold for them! The locker rooms are sparklingly clean and consistently have perfectly regulated air temperature (dry and cool) so when you dry off with your towels provided , YOU STAY DRY and not saturated with humidity from the showers like I've noticed at other pools.

I'll admit it. I'm spoiled
I've learned a ton over the years swimming with Masters. I hadn't swum competitively since I was a child so it was all new to me again back in 2004 when I  started training for my first Ironman . I had to learn how to read the clock, pace myself, learn where I belong in the lane, understand and execute the given workout. More often than not, I was overly concerned of doing something stupid like screwing up one of my new lane mate's send offs. I wanted to be part of the lane,seen and not heard until I gained some confidence. I'd even go as far as saying I was a bit too concerned with what everyone else was doing  in the lane when I first started.

I had eyes.
Many pairs of eyes.
In the back of my head and on my feet I had eyes, so worried about being caught and tapped on the foot or falling off the pace and screwing up the interval.
For the first few weeks I was NERVOUS every time it was time for masters swim practice.

Eventually I settled in and the core group we have is the BEST. I couldn't ask for better lane mates. We've been swimming together for at least 3 of the 5 years I've been there.  We know each other well. We don't even have to say good morning on those snowy cold winter dark Monday mornings. We can read each others faces.Often saying without opening our mouths:
"What the hell are we doing here at 6:15 on a Monday morning with the roads like a sheet of ice?"

We welcome new swimmers to our lane but the history of new lane mates sticking with it
isn't very good.
It's a pattern and sadly a bad one.

They come, they swim for one session or two, and they are gone.
Because they either don't care or are clueless in introducing themselves to the lane.
I  don't care if you've been swimming for a decade, you need to CHILL and be respectful. Essentially you 
are a guest but more often it's like a drunk party crasher.

Here's how not be the drunk party crasher:

1. Meet with the Masters coach and get yourself in the APPROPRIATE LANE

2. Seat yourself in the back of the lane for the warm up. Get a feel for the swimmers in front of you. Even if you are the FIRST swimmer there, humble thyself and let a veteran take the reigns. It's just good judgment and sends the clear message that you  are there to find cohesion and have a good swim!
3.  Don't leave the wall before a solid 5 second spacing of you and the swimmer in front of you.
4. If the lane is full (5+ swimmers) after getting to the wall, try to squeeze over so if someone is behind you they can finish an interval  AT THE WALL.
5. Please don't flip turn on the  RIGHT side of the wall. You need to flip on the center of the black cross or even better, to the left of it. Why? Because if you don't, you are coming off the wall ready to crash into
the next swimmer behind you.
6. A warm up is just that. A WARM UP. Blasting out the warm up and DYING during the main set
is a big fat F for lane etiquette especially if you think you can lead the lane.

Yesterday this exact thing occurred in my lane.  Exhibit A joined the lane (there were only 3 of us) and was behind me at the start of  the warm up set. Within seconds he was practically on top of me. After enduring this for approximately 100 yards, I stopped at the wall and said, "you seem frustrated during this set and need to swim  in front of me, That is fine. Go."  Within seconds he was right on top of  my lane mate who was leading the set stopping and breast stroking in the middle of the lane because  he was once again bunched up. I wondered why Bill our coach put this fast swimmer in our lane??????
At this point I was rolling my eyes and just completing the set happy he wasn't on top of me anymore.

Then comes the main set.

22 100's at different paces.
The first set of  5 100's was to be on 1:20 but essentially we were to come in on 1:15. Exhibit A  is first at the wall ready to go.  I am next. He seemed pretty speedy in the  warm up so I wasn't going to be the one to hold him up when the bread and butter part of the workout  appeared.

Can you guess what happened?  

He BLASTED out the first 100 on 1:14 and then died. He was unable to sustain even the 1:20 pace screwing up my interval.
Of course the coach is right there timing the lanes and watching this carnage unfold  and tells me to GO AROUND him.  I don't because I don't want to create a scene and really, he should have had enough brain matter intact to stay at the wall, and let me go.

Really? I have to be the lane Biotch and point this out to Exhibit A??? I did not and left it up to
the coach to deal with.

 Most baffling and sadly the pattern I earlier spoke of.  I share it will all of you to pass it on to who
ever you think might benefit from a few good tips.

Happy Zen-like swimming!


Michelle Simmons said...

I could totally relate to this post! Crack me up! I don't swim with masters anymore (for several reasons) but just have one consistent training partner now and we don't put up with any BS at all in the pool. It's perfect. :) But your tips for newbies are great!

Jennifer Harrison said...

AMEN! We could all write 1,000 blogs on swim etiguette and lane mates and all that goes along with that...and my BFF in the pool and so on....I LOVE IT....Great about the men who blow out every longer least in my lane I say, "um, nope, I am going b/c you will blow everything before the 250 split." HA..and then they cream me in anything shorter than a 200....xo

Anonymous said...

Glad you got it off your chest.

some quick points:

1. The lane works better when everyone understands how to pass (in the middle of the lane).

2. New folks: Yes, they should be nice... but they are taking on a whole group who all know each other and feeling like an outsider or outcast. It's cool when the regulars go out of their way to be welcoming!

3. Working hard is something the tri girl pink always does... you rock!

Mer! said...


Can I take these with me and post them ON me while I swim?? These are awesome. I especially appreciate the "not leaving sooner than 5 seconds" and the flipping on the right side....I had someone flip on the right side the other day and I was like WHAT??? UGH.

LOVE the sound of your pool!! I am currently swimming in a: noodle/water aerobics/sweaty towel induced pool =0

GoBigGreen said...

Heheheh that is why i love long sets especially the 800's with descend the last 400. SEE ...YA.....
Hope the healing is ...well....healing.
And heck, easy spinning is better than none at all!

Bote Man said...

I thought the entire point of Masters Swimming is to TEACH. Newbies are not veterans with your group, so why aren't the responsible people giving them this necessary guidance.

Whatever, this post has solidified my doubts about investigating Masters; I won't even consider it any further. Sounds like 'controlled chaos meets unrelenting boredom'.

I'll just stick to long, long, long laps in the Atlantic Ocean followed by jogs in the sand.


Keith said...

I've had people suggest Masters to me. Frankly, every time I look at it, or read a blog about Masters, it scares the crap out of me.

I can at least swim freestyle and backstroke, albeit slowly by your standards. Breast stroke only warms up the water, and butterfly is nonexistent.

Your pool sounds great though.

n8 said...

try this out E.