The swimming pool, the perfect place to people watch. Over the months I have been both intrigued and irritated with the variety of people at my local pool. However, there appears to be a pattern in the types of behaviour displayed, and almost all people can be filtered into one of the below types of swimmer. How many can you find while training for a triathlon? If you can find them all, you are probably spending just the right amount of time in the pool, aka too much.
The Deceptive Old Lady
She creaks up to the ladders at the side of the pool and slowly lowers herself in, shivering, gasping for breath and looking as though she may collapse at any minute. Slowly adjusting a floral swim hat on her head and pegging her nose, she is ready.
However, she ducks under the lane division into the medium speed lane. The regulars look shocked and all take off swimming to get in front of her. Setting off she is a different creature from the fragile one that entered the pool. She speeds off, water lapping around her body at breakneck speeds, catching the regulars up. On crawling out of the pool, she returns to the frail human from before.
The Deceptive Larger Swimmer
Similar to the older swimmer, but this person shocks all with their speed to weight ratio. The whippet-like regulars are in full flow up and down the medium lane as the larger man lowers himself into the pool. Many look shocked that he has entered a lane other than the slow one.
However, he glides effortlessly through the water, down the centre of the lane overtaking the whippets. They try to speed up to regain self-respect but fall short of the mark, they have been well and truly out swum. This person also has the deceptive stamina and never stops. The whippets look on in shock, awe and amazement.
Michael Phelps Wannabe
There is always one man that has been swimming for years. Kitted out in full Speedo gear, he talks to fellow pool users about his last race and how he was robbed, he now spends hours a day in the pool to improve his times. He never smiles, swimming is not a hobby, it is life.
Once he is in the pool he does not bother with mere warm-ups, he launches straight into a pacey, splashy and fairly frantic butterfly as if he were in the Olympic finals. It is so frantic people stop and move out of his way as tidal waves of water materialise from his arms. After 20 very fast, very scary lengths he hops out, drinks the protein shake at the side of the pool and does his stretches. I do not know whether to be impressed, amused or scared.
The Wrong Laners
The slowpoke. A person that should be in the slow lane but out of some delusion of grandeur has decided to go into the medium lane. They bob mid lane, moving at a glacial pace. However, no one has the heart to tell them to shift off back into the slow lane.
The speed freak. A person that should be in the fast lane but stays in the medium lane. They have extreme big fish little pond syndrome and get a kick off overtaking people. They tend to be accomplished tumble turners, fantastic front crawlers and are oblivious to the fact they are in the very wrong lane. People have no problem telling them this, to which their reply is a snide smile.
The Chatter Boxes
Usually, two women who bob along in the slow lane, heads above water to allow ample chatting time. They talk about the grandchildren, society; some women called Mary and general idle gossip. On completing 25m, they sprawl out at the end of the pool and have a 5-minute break to catch their breath and to divulge in the details of the gossip broached on that length.
This break is concluded with "Oh I just do not know" and off they go for the next length where a new topic is broached. This is repeated for about 15 lengths, and I imagine their jaws are in more pain than their bodies the next day.
All Gear No Idea
This person enters the pool looking the business. They have Speedo everything, and all matching, cap, goggles, nose peg, swimsuit/trunks, flip-flops. On first look, they appear to be another Michael Phelps wannabe. However, this person lowers into the slow lane and stays there. They stand at the end of the pool for a while looking for a gap between the chatterboxes and the wrong laners.
They kick off, a mass of arms and legs, out of sync with panic. They struggle onto the end of the 25m and regain composure before another painful length. After five lengths they settle down a bit and find a rhythm. "Nice to see you practising Tom!!" Yells an instructor across the pool. It then becomes apparent that they are a very well kitted out beginner.
Usually a wrong lane speed freak with an attitude. They catch up with people mid lane from which they proceed to slow down, tread water for a bit and huff. On having a break at the top of the pool, they glare at people, shake their heads and huff as loud as possible to make all people feel very uncomfortable.
The Wonky Backstroker
This person can not stay in a straight line while on their back and proceed to drift across the lane, crashing into unsuspecting front crawlers.
The Hair Monster
People that leave the pool looking like a Golden Retriever that has materialised from a pond, depositing straggly hairs in the pool which you will later pick from your face or mouth.
A person that turns up to the pool in nothing but a swimsuit. No goggles, hair uncovered and sometimes not even tied up. They look to be lost at first having walked past the lagoon/casual pool. However, they turn out to be an effortlessly fantastic swimmer that does not need all the gadgets to be decent. The chlorine doesn't burn their eyes; their hair doesn't slow them down. They are a natural; they are a mermaid.
They turn up with a bag at the poolside. Within this bag is an array of gadgets. Various floats, hand paddles, flippers, all sorts. Every few lengths they take out a new gadget and do their set with it before trading it in for a new one. They rarely swim without a gadget.
Tumble turns diving in at the deep end in a number of ways and doing some fairly elaborate stretches before and after their swim. They are fascinating to watch, and for the most part, I sit in awe with how seamless their tumble turns are.
This person is not necessarily a bad swimmer; they just make a lot of mess and noise when swimming. They kick above the water to the point they cause tsunamis and splash their arms down with such force that everyone in a 3 meters radius is blinded by the splash.
The Deep Sea Diver
This delight is a humorous one. They love swimming underwater and set off each length with trying to swim as far as possible under water. Not an issue. The issue lays with when they raise back to the surface. More often than not, they do not look at who they have undertaken while below the surface and pop up between peoples crotches, in their faces or full on winding them in the stomach.
When the school have lessons in the lanes next to the fast lane. The swam of children descends. It is impossible to get to the lockers, the showers, go to the toilet and the noise is deafening.
The Lone Bobber
A person who looks to have taken swimming on as a way to meet people and bobs around at the bottom of the pool waiting for someone to stop. When someone stops they immediately start speaking to them and will not let them leave. If you are doing "serious" swimming avoid a lone bobber at all costs.
A couple that rock up in their holiday swim gear and decide to enter the middle lane doing slow, head above water breaststroke, followed by hugging and kissing at the bottom of the pool where the gymnasts are trying to tumble turn. Hugely irritating when the lagoon pool is open. However, you can't help but feel like a Scrooge if you ask them to move out of the way. They are after all very happy.
A group of young lads that appear at weekends as something to do. They turn up in their board shorts, sit in large groups at the end of the pool and have macho competitions to see who is the best swimmer before leering at any women in a bikini.
The Music Man
This person has their ears plugged into music while in the pool. They are focused, they are serious swimming. However, they are known for not being aware of their surroundings with one less sense and crash into a lot of people. They will bob along to their tunes at the end of the pool as if to say "look, everyone, I am going to enjoy this a lot more than you as I have music ha!" I for one am always very jealous of the music man.
The Glamour Puss
A woman that turns up to the pool in a full face of makeup, hair done, plunge neckline swimsuit. She looks like she is dressed for an exotic dance lesson rather than a lane swim. She breaststrokes up and down with her head above the water, and if anyone splashes her, she screams, and screams, and screams some more. I am not sure if she has been told that there are better places to get glammed up for.
A classic. People that are genuinely scared of getting their face wet, or just do not like having a wet face. Swimming does seem to be an odd pass time for these people.
The very very pregnant lady that takes her unborn child for a whizz around the pool. She will be met with "oohs" and "ahhhhs" from every woman in the pool and "should you be swimming?" from most of the men. Whether she should or should not be swimming, it is amazing to watch someone with such a swollen tummy not sink!
The Average Joe
The best people! They turn up in normal amounts of gear; they are there to swim and improve. They know what lane they should be in, will be polite and courteous of other swimmers and if spoken to will politely engage in conversion before making their excuses to carry on their training.
Whether you are one of these people or you experience encounters with a number of them I suppose we are all trying to improve or better ourselves while in the pool. The plan of action I take to not be wound up by people is think of them as an obstacle. If someone is swimming slow, overtake them race style! Someone is splashing around while swimming? Try to go a few strokes more without breathing while they go past. A backstroker is off course and crashes into you? Well, get used to it as people will be crashing into you at Iron Man! However, if someone pops up into your crotch from swimming under you, then I think there may be a reason to have a word!