Swimming is the first sport I picked up, somewhere after the dodge-ball playground game where you try to hit others with a rubber ball. So I have put in a lot of time swimming up and down in small pools, big pools, with kids a third my age, and with senior citizens triple my age.
I must admit though, I have been finding it a challenge to find suitable pool time. I often swim with a club, NYAC, full of much younger and speedier fishies, which is terrific. Everyone knows the unspoken rules, when to let someone pass, how to keep your own line in the lane, how to not hog the wall. However when I need to swim any other time I am in constant search of public pools that actually have swim-able lanes. I am jealous when I see pictures of empty pools, or hear Johnnyo complain that he is lonely, swimming in a big, deserted pool all by himself. Meanwhile I am dodging swimmers doing sidestroke in the “fast” lane, trying to not do flip-turns on people stretching across the entire wall of the pool, attempting to not let my “lane rage” get out of control. Everyone has heard of “road rage” plaguing drivers in cities with too many cars, and not enough roads. Well, I am guilty of “lane rage” when someone cuts me off in the pool, or someone “stalls” in front of me, or changes three lanes at once without any consideration for others. When a gentlemen collided with me after jumping into a lane right in front of me I was wishing I had super loud horn to “beep” at him.
I finally found a sweet little pool, right by my house, which usually is quite busy, but has a “women’s only swim” a couple evenings a week. It was awesome, the first time I went there were only two of us in the pool, it was superb. So off I went again this weekend, trying to not get too excited. I walked on deck, and tried not to see the pool as full, but rather as half empty. There were a few people there, not too many, but unfortunately some were swimming widths, rather than lengths. I watched for a few minutes and realized the two ladies, fully dressed in full sleeves and full pants, were just learning to swim and were simply pushing off the wall, gliding and not even making it a third of the way across the width. So if I got in at the far end, and swam lengths we could co-exist quite happily. I got in, started my warm up, then a pull set, always keeping an eye to make sure the path was clear. Now the two new swimmers were getting better with each try, and the older lady of the two, the mother, was getting farther and farther each time, gliding and then trying to move her arms in a flailing motion. Soon she would probably glide so far we would be colliding. However I was pretty impressed by her perseverance. I noticed they were watching me and trying to see what I was doing with my arms, and then trying it. I couldn’t help myself, and stopped and asked if they wanted any help. The younger of the two, the daughter, probably in her late teens quickly introduced herself, and was very keen to ask how to do things. The mother spoke very little English, but was a quick learner. Much quicker than her daughter. It was interesting to see how the mother, twice her age, could grasp the idea of the movement, and the response of the water so much differently than her daughter. We spent the next 30 minutes working on gliding, blowing out air underwater, kicking and moving the arms. It was only their third time ever in a swimming pool, and they had decided to learn how to swim. How amazing.
I didn’t get my entire swim in that night, but I walked away from that pool with no lane rage whatsoever. Perhaps next time it will help me see the pool as half full of people trying to be better at something, whether it is a skill, or better health, or just a clearer mind, rather than full of people getting in each others way. I will still continue to dream of big, wide, empty lanes though.