Wednesday, February 15, 2012

To The Other Morning Swimmers

Dear fellow morning pool goers,

Unless you're one of a small number of people, I'm sure you don't like being up this early, either. Much less in lycra, a tight plastic cap and googles. Maybe you do, but you certainly don't act like it.

I really don't think I've seen an angrier, more sullen group of people in an athletic setting...ever. I know there's not much time for small talk between laps and I'm certainly not expecting an invite to coffee right after we've spent an hour ignoring each other while sharing spit and snot in the pool water around us, but is it too much to ask for a "good morning"? I even accept a brief nod or a smile or eye contact. We runners do this without breaking stride. It's considered good form to acknowledge others dedicated to the pursuit of athleticism and health at an ungodly hour. Ignoring each other doesn't make you look more elite on a long run...just like more of an asshole.

I'm really trying here. I want to be one of you. I do! I read all the pool etiquette rules at the Y, stood at the edge of the "slow" lane so I could let you know that I'd be joining you without making unexpected waves (literally). I actually waited 5 minutes without you acknowledging my presence, so sorry I'm not sorry that I jumped in and started my workout without informing you. Sorry that this is a public pool and you have to share. I hear that it's not uncommon for you swimmers to ignore people in hopes they'll go away and choose another lane. Ain't gonna happen. The other slow lane already has 3 people and they're faster than me. You're outta luck.

Look, I know I'm not one of the cool kids. Those are the people who swim laps without stopping then block up the end of the "very fast" lane, chatting, laughing and, in the case of one couple, canoodling (please, can you not? it looks unsanitary). I'm just trying to get my laps in so I don't drown in this upcoming race. I'm sorry if my flailing is ruining your flow.

I have to buy a new bathing suit and I don't to be "that girl" at the pool, but I like colors and my black bathing suit is boring (though the chlorine is destroying it, so it's almost see-through...less boring?). Runners trend towards neon, but I don't want to out myself that quickly. Then again, I'm getting so confused and tired of looking at suits, I'm 5 minutes from buying something garish anyway and continuing my drown/crawl along side you sleek, pool savvy people.

I also don't appreciate the loud sighs that you exhale when you have to go around me as I'm taking a minute to calm my about-to-explode heart at the end of the pool. The cool kids get to sit there without hunching into a corner and they can swim continuously...why not me? I know I exhale in an annoyed fashion with other runners on the trail, but that's only when they're running in a pack of 3 abroad. That's just rude and last I checked, taking a break in the very far corner of a lane is not. You're just pissed I'm making you swim in a circle instead of getting your own half lane. At least, that's what I'm assuming.

So help me out here, you guys. I want to become one of you. I want to glide effortlessly through the water without concerning the lifeguard. I want to move out of the slow lane and into the medium lane. I want to look like I belong here. Or we can agree that you can sigh if I can wear neon.




  1. As a multi-decade morning swimmer, some thoughts:
    -The reason people won't say good morning is that they've got their faces in the water - unlike when you're running.
    -If you stand on the deck, people won't see you because their faces are in the water. Dangle your legs in the water at the end of the lane, or catch their attention by putting a kickboard underwater at the wall. They'll probably stop for a split second, nod in acknowledgement of your presence, and then swim more knowing that you're there (and welcome).
    -Be on the lookout for anybody tapping your feet, this is the universal signal for "I'm going to pass you." Stop briefly at the wall next time you get there and let them pass.
    -Neon swimwear is necessary for morning swimming. I'm currently using a hot pink zebra suit myself. Check out .

    1. - I figured as much, I know swimming = not a lot of time for talking. I just feel so isolated from everyone and I was surprised. My experience with early morning gym-goers has been that they're fairly chipper.

      - I tried the kickboard thing and some woman chewed me out for interrupting her swim. I'd thought that signaling I was joining was the polite thing to do...maybe she woke up on the wrong side of the bed. I'll keep doing that if that's standard practice.

      - No one's tapped my feet yet, but good to know. I saw that on the etiquette board, but didn't know if ppl actually did that.

      - NEON SWIMWEAR FTW. My dad gave me a gift card to swimoutlet...very very excited.

  2. Mia, The woman that chewed you out for waving a kickboard to indicate that you'd like to join the lane is, in fact, an a-hole. The rest of us who have been swiming for multiple decades appreciate that move and will do exactly what Victoria described: pop our heads out - give a little wave that we will start circling, and keep going.

    It's really hard when you are trying your best to follow all the rules and the people around you are being jerks anyway. I swim at the Y (downtown) and can vouch for the jerk level that sometimes appears. I'd be happy to meet up sometime and swim together. Also happy to scream at people who are rude if you point them out. Heehee.

    1. WHEW! I'm two for two on pro swimmers telling me it wasn't me! What a relief :)

      I'd love to swim with you - the Y downtown, you mean to YWCA? I taught there years ago and haven't been back since it's out of my hood.

      The Y in Dupont is really close to my house and disturbingly close to a sweetgreen. Would love to have company and I'm certainly happy to meet you downtown!

  3. Oh, no we are talking about the same one! Are you able to send me a message via the googlewebs by clicking on my name or something to coordinate to meet up? If not, Victoria has my email address!

    1. Are you on twitter? I can direct message you --or I can try to find you on the google :)