In January, the Y’s pool is always more crowded because of “resolutionists.” I’m a serious swimmer and even without the influx these few weeks bring, already frustrated with the large number of swimmers who don’t use the lanes (fast, medium, slow, recreational) their abilities warrant. According to a posting on deck, a 50-second lap puts you firmly in the fast lane, and a huge sprint clock helps you figure out where you should be. The Lap Lane Etiquette hanging on the wall also explains what to do when someone swimming faster in any of those lanes wants to pass. However, it appears lifeguards are reluctant to enforce the rules or move slow swimmers, perhaps because they don’t want to offend their fantasy of being the next Michael Phelps. You may notice I didn’t say Michael Phelps or Dara Torres. That’s because most offenders, I’ve noticed, are men. But that’s a topic for another day.
This is why being a serious lap swimmer often warrants declaring anarchy. Case in point:
I joined a lane in which three people (one man and three women) were already swimming. The women were moving at a pretty good clip; the man…was not. We three were able to pass him, as well as one another; but eventually, we had a four-swimmer pile-up at the wall because of him. The women waited, deferring to me, it seemed, so I asked him to please pull over when he could.
“Okay, Sweetie,” he said. “Don’t get your tank in a twist.” Excuse me? “Only my husband and father are allowed to call me ‘Sweetie.’ And on your way back to the locker room,” I said, pointing to the wall, “check numbers five to seven of how to be…polite in the pool.”
I’d been dreading running, or swimming, into Mr. Sweetie again, but there he was the other day, doing a sidestroke in a crowded slow lane even though the fast lane was empty. Mmmmm. He nodded to me as he made his turn, and I graciously waved. An hour later, we found ourselves together in the sauna. “Pool was perfect,” Mr. Sweetie said. “Yes, good temperature and very blue,” I said. “Well, I’m cooked,” he said, rising. “Nice seeing you. Enjoy your day.”
So this is what I’m positing: Because the pool is a finite structure with an inconstant environment – like the world – and its swimmers the varied and complex “citizens,” lap swimming illuminates who are the aggressive and powerful Alpha, who are the yielding Omega, and who are Beta – like the two gals who probably would have said something had I not been there.
Wow, who knew the lap pool is a microcosm of society? Oh, by the way, I swim not only for sport, but for relaxation….