Now that I’ve been going swimming in my lunch hour 2 or 3 times per week (on and off) for a couple of years, I feel qualified to produce a Guide to the Unofficial Rules of Lane Swimming. You may not be aware but there are actually 2 versions; one applying to men and the other to women:
1. Enter swimming area and go straight to the fast lane irrespective of how good or bad a swimmer you are.
2. Swim in the direction indicated, eg. Clockwise or anti-clockwise.
3. Never check at the end of each lap whether the person behind you has caught you up indicating that they may be a faster swimmer than you.
4. Never let anyone who has caught you up, ie. who is a faster swimmer than you, past. They will enjoy having to accelerate out of their comfort zone to overtake and risking the clout of a kicked foot in doing so or a head-on collision. Really.
5. If someone does start to overtake you, drift into the middle of the lane and kick more vigorously. Especially if that person is a woman. She is mistaken; she cannot be faster than you as she is a woman.
6. If you notice someone catching you up in a convenient place for that person (ok, that woman) to overtake you, do NOT let this happen. Speed up randomly leaving her having to either race you or to fall back. She will appreciate the extra exercise and will enjoy nearly being drowned.
7. As you soon as you have thwarted an overtaking manoeuvre, immediately slow down again so that the person (ok, woman) is forced to stare up your backside for a lap of breast stroke. She will enjoy this.
8. If anyone allows you past at the end of a lap, there is no need to thank them.
9. At the end of any lap, stop to chat to your mates and make sure that you use all available space. Other swimmers will enjoy having to squeeze between you and not being able to kick off against the wall.
10. Once you have finished your workout, take full advantage of the unisex changing areas.
1. Enter swimming area and decide which lane is the appropriate standard for you. (It’s the fast lane for me.)
2. Swim in the direction indicated, eg. Clockwise or anti-clockwise. If you’re not sure which is which, look at the little arrows on the sign and follow everyone else.
3. If it’s the slow lane, you will have at least one friend with you. Although others may be swimming nose to tail, this is not compulsory; if you need to continue your chat, by all means do so. No-one will mind.
4. If it’s the slow or medium lane, on no account dip your head underneath the water. A sedate breast stroke is all that is required.
5. If it’s the slow or medium lane, ensure plenty of breaks between laps; roughly 50% of your time in the pool should be spent stationary at one end or the other.
6. If it’s the fast lane, check behind you at the end of each lap to ensure that there is no-one catching you up.
7. If there is, wait courteously at the end to allow them to pass. They may thank you.
8. When overtaking somebody for the first time, try not to kick too vigorously or swim too close to them as you do so; there is no need to disturb them just because they are swimming slower than you.
9. Try and observe your fellow swimmers; remember their trunks and costumes and their pace relative to you.
10. If you are forced by an inconsiderate slower swimmer (ok, man) to overtake repeatedly, despite the fact that they are demonstrably slower than you and that they could easily pause momentarily at the end of a lane to allow you past, disregard rule 8 above. Instigate a teaching programme of swimming progressively closer and splashing ever more vigorously. They may learn and, if they do not, it is entertaining trying.
11. If anyone allows you past, thank them.
12. In the unisex changing areas, do not permit eye contact with anyone, ever.
Ok, ok. I know that not everyone is as bad as someone of these “rules” may apply but you’d be surprised how often you encounter sheer bad manners. Grrr. I’m often the fastest swimmer in the lane and yet it usually takes ages for the blokes to accept that and actually let me past without a fight. The women in the fast lane tend to be much more considerate (although this is not always the case - come on sisters - get it together!!). Sigh…