If you're going to swim in city pools, don't be a lane hog!
Swimming may be great for you, but the pool is not for the faint of heart.
Swimmers are a feisty bunch; Seattle swimmers in particular. When asked about pool etiquette for lap swimming, they begin politely enough, saying they have only a few etiquette rules they care about. Swim counterclockwise, choose the correct lane for your speed and all will be well!
But give them a little leeway to say what they really think, and soon enough they let loose with a lengthy list of pet peeves. Swimming may be great for you, but the pool is not for the faint of heart.
Among the main pool-induced irritants:
• Choosing the wrong lane for your speed, i.e. jumping in the fast lane with a kickboard.
• Stopping at the end of the lane and not moving aside for incoming swimmers to flip-turn.
• Pushing off the wall and swimming on the heels of the person in front of you. Doubly annoying: Dragging/drafting off the wake of the swimmer you just tailed.
• Showing up with extra apparatuses, such as a snorkel, or swimmers wearing flippers in the fast lane. (There's the lane-speed thing again.)
• Not yielding to faster swimmers. (Lanes, again.)
• Passing when unnecessary.
• Alternatively, if someone passes you, take it as a sign that you're probably in the wrong lane. If there's a whole lot of passing going on, one of you probably needs to switch lanes.
• Touching someone else's feet. Pools can be close quarters, and you may get elbowed out there. But try not to grab feet. That's just wrong.
• Drifting into the center of the lane. It's a setup for clocking someone with your arms.
• Swimming blind without glasses or contacts. Get some goggles, people.
• Walking across lanes.
• Be kind to people in the slow lanes. Don't bully them. They have nowhere else to go.
The drama is not just in their heads. One swimmer witnessed an entire lane at Green Lake's Evans Pool gang up against a guy who was drafting off others and touching a girl's feet. We also recommend not yelling at other swimmers. It's echo-y in there, and everyone will hear you when you lose your lid.
The main advice for first-timers at the pool is read the rules. The lanes are marked by speed, but speed varies depending on who has shown up that day. Slow lanes are at the edges of the pool, and the fastest lanes are in the center.
Seattle pools field some serious swimmers who often do speed drills. If you can't keep up, stay out of their way.
If you can't keep the rules straight, just think of it like driving: Don't pull out in front of others going faster than you, don't stop suddenly and don't swerve wildly out of your lane. For the most part, you will avoid crashes and dirty looks.
But on the days that feel like everyone is crowding you and swimming in the wrong lane, keep calm and remember that it could be worse. One swimmer who shall remain unnamed confessed that as a 15-year-old, she kept her lane clear by doing the butterfly.
"Nobody wants to swim next to a 15-year-old with a 6-foot wingspan."
One last tip: Don't do that.
For more information about Seattle pools, see http://www.seattle.gov/parks/pools.asp.