I'm sure we could write a billion books with all of our swim related stories and funnies. I have been swimming less than a year so I am certainly no expert when it comes to swim etiquette, but I do think of myself as a courteous person in general. If presented in a situation when I have to share a lane, I always ask the person occupying the lane if it's okay to share and what they would like to do; circle swim or split the lane. If I'm swimming and I notice the lanes are getting crowded, I pick a side and swim on the side to make it easy for someone to jump in and share the lane.
Based on the three outdoor pools that I swim at the most, this is generally never an issue as most of the folks there are lap swimmers and with so many lanes to choose from I very rarely had to share a lane and I never had to circle swim.
Recently 24 Hour Fitness opened a new facility in Walnut Creek with an indoor pool and childcare. I've been sucking it up all winter with my outdoor pools, I swam in torrential downpours and freezing temperatures. The only real issue is that I have a four year old who goes to pre-school 3 days a week for 3 hours a day. In order to get my swims in I would have to drive to Walnut Creek to Clarke Memorial Pool right after her drop off to get my swim in. This would leave me just enough time to come home, shower and eat before I had to run and pick her up. This also meant that it left no time to run errands, grocery shop or go to doctor's appointments without her. The other downside was that on days that I needed to run (non school days for her) I would have to bring her to the gym and run on the treadmill, which we all know is uninspiring and boring. When this new gym opened up, I was thrilled. This meant I could swim on days she didn't have school, bring her with me and she could play at the childcare while I swam laps, sat in the hot tub and took a shower. This is also meant I could run outside on days she was at school. I became a seriously happy camper and not a mopey athlete not thrilled with her schedule or training.
This is where the fun starts. While there are some folks at the gym who lap swim like myself (like the guy who swam in his tri kit) there are way more recreational swimmers. I'm not even sure if they qualify as recreational swimmers, lets call them "plungers". The lap pool, hot tub and steam rooms are all together and co-ed. This makes for lots of good people watching during sets. Lots of folks work out (I think) and then come to use the hot tub or steam rooms. Most of these folks are older men, who I'm guessing are retired based on the time of the day they are there.
I've seen lots of fun things. A woman swimming with a shower cap on. Not a swim cap, but a shower cap. She was swimming with her head above water so I guess she really didn't want to get her hair wet. Earlier this week I was sharing a lane with a gentleman who simulated a very nice open water swim for me. Every time we passed each other I would get a nice mouth full of water instead of air. I'm not going to complain, because I really need practice with this. It was a great exercise in spitting out the water and coming back for another breath. With six of us in the three lane pool there was lots of chop to simulate an open water start, again more great practice. In the lane next to me was one lap swimmer and one lane walker. Interesting, my outdoor pools are too deep for lane walkers so this was a new one for me.
Today, I was happy to have a lane to myself, sort of. I was done with my main set and getting ready to do my cool down when I turned around to notice a woman getting into my lane. The other two lanes were open, but she was getting in my lane. Okay, I swam past her as I started my cool down hoping she would just swim under the lane line to another lane. She didn't. She was a plunger! She had come from the hot tub and was looking for a cold plunge in my lane. Okay, I won't give you the stink eye over a plunge, but it seemed to be more than just a plunge, it was more like a soak. As I headed out on my next 50 I made sure to kick really hard and splash her. Let's be honest, I'm a puller and not a kicker, so I may have exerted myself a wee bit much on that but I was trying to get my point across that there was a better place to lounge than the side wall of my lane. She sat there for my entire cool down, in my lane with an empty pool. I'm sure that was good practice for something.
After that I got in the hot tub, ah the best part of a swim. Unless you are in a gym filled with old men who like to talk, a lot. One was a skydiver, the other a former B-52 pilot and the third was a wannabe who liked asking lots of questions so the other two could talk on and on about about skydiving and free-falling and packing parachutes. I tried really hard to close my eyes and tune them out. I'm not sure what it is about the hot tub that drives people to talk endlessly. The first few times it was about the new gym and how all the other ones suck. For the most part, I close my eyes to avoid eye contact so that I don't have to engage in any conversations, this is my quiet time damn-it!
Don't get me wrong, I love my new schedule and that I can bring my youngest with me, I just need to get used to the new "etiquette" with the plungers. Maybe some ear plugs for the hot tub.