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June 1, 2011

Pool gaffes

I'm now swimming regularly for the first time in years, and that has lead to some awkward re-acclamation.

For example, I yesterday had my first attempt at shared-lane lap swims, and I'm afraid I failed a pretty basic test.

Everything was going well for the first three-quarters of the pool length as I crawled slowly along the left, leaving space for the returning swimmer on the right.

Except that she never came along the right. Instead, when I arrived at the end of the pool, I found a kind-looking but very annoyed woman of about 50, sitting on the side of the pool, who informed me that "WE do not share lanes."

Even though I read through all the pool policies at the Waverly Y, I had forgotten to follow a basic, unwritten rule: Ask before assuming. If someone doesn't know you're there, all the policies in the world won't keep him or her from bumping into you. In this case, I was lucky in that she stopped and looked around before heading back.

What behaviors annoy you when you go to a pool? What faux pas have you committed? Tell us about it.

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Edit: I know it's National Running Day. However, I honestly haven't been running since Cleveland, so I don't have much to say on that topic. Try our sister paper.

Posted by Patrick Maynard at 10:55 AM | | Comments (10)
Categories: Swimming


I have managed to avoid any run-ins at the pool so far by choosing to go in off hours when there are plenty of open lanes. I have enough anxiety trying to regain some form after a 25-year hiatus. The last thing I want to do is upset the locals.

I was a a cat in my last life, so I don't like to get wet, but my husband has a pool membership. His pet peeve is people who don't shower before getting into the water.

People who pee in pools. Despite that urine is mostly sterile, it's still bodily waste and it's still disgusting. I'm fat now, so I NEVER go in the water, but I remember hating pee-ers.

Well first, its absolute bunk that lanes are not shared. Especially at the Y. But you still have to let the person in the lane know that you intend to share with them. I try to do my share of laps, and to that end, my pet peeve is people who take up a lane and don't actually swim. If you need to rest 1-2 minutes after every lap (unless you are doing a time trial), you do not need to take up a lane.

A lap lane is for lap swimming. If you are not swimming laps get out of the pool. It's inconsiderate not to be swimming laps when others are obviously waiting.

As for sharing a lane. There are two rules.

1. Let the other swimmer know you want to share.

2. Do your best to pick a lane with a swimmer whose skills are close to your own.

A lap lane is for lap swimming. If you are not swimming laps get out of the pool. It's inconsiderate not to be swimming laps when others are obviously waiting.

As for sharing a lane. There are two rules.

1. Let the other swimmer know you want to share.

2. Do your best to pick a lane with a swimmer whose skills are close to your own.

I'm confused ... i thought when you shared a lane you did a circle swim (staying on the right at all times, so faster swimmers can pass on the left.)

And that woman was so rude. If she wants a lane to herself, she can build her own pool and maintain it --- or go in the off hours like Jerry suggests.

You are supposed to always swim on the right side of the lane so people can pass you on the left. If only two people are sharing a lane you both should discuss which side you will swim on.

I'm late to this conversation, but as a newbie swimmer, I wanted to share my thoughts.

Because I am still learning to swim, and am slower than most people (but not everyone!), I am deathly afraid of sharing a lane.

Because of this, I always try to swim at off times when no one else is there. But if other people *are* there, and I notice that someone has come in and is waiting for a lane, I get out immediately to let them have mine.

Now, I do that out of insecurity, because I am afraid to share and am still not totally comfortable at pools. It's not because I think I am less entitled to a lane than someone who swims better than me. I expect I'll become more comfortable soon and this will change. Besides, sometimes I have to wait to swim, and it's not a big deal.

So, that brings me to the comments by people who think that if you need to rest, you're not entitled to swim in a lane. I am trying to learn to swim laps, and am working on my endurance, so I do sometimes need to rest between laps. Does this mean I am not allowed to use the pool? How do people learn to swim laps then? This attitude doesn't seem to make sense to me.

From what I remember, my pool has rules implying that a certain rotation (counterclockwise?) is preferred within lanes, but from what I've seen, many people are equally happy to simply go back and forth in one side of the lane, creating the effect of two parallel mini-lanes rather than a single conveyor. (This is communicated ahead of time, of course, as per the main post.)

Depending on your pool's culture and the individual involved, that might be an option.

That obviously only works with two people, but I have yet to see things get so busy that all three lap lanes are doubled up, so we haven't had to convert from a side-by-side pattern to a conveyor pattern yet. If we ever have that situation, I'll let you know what happens.

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About Exercists
Andrea Siegel, a reporter at The Baltimore Sun, covers mostly crime and courts in Annapolis and Anne Arundel County, as well as legal issues. She wishes she was more physically fit, and, as she's more fond of chocolate than exercise, fitness is a challenge. Her partner on a one-mile-plus daily walk is the family dog, a mixed breed named Moxie, and she exercises at the gym where the D.C. snipers once worked out.
Jerry Jackson has been a photo editor at The Baltimore Sun for 14 years and an avid cyclist for more than 30 years. Inspired by the movie "Breaking Away," he started racing as a teenager in Mississippi when leather "brain baskets" were still the norm. He regularly commutes to work by bike and still enters several mountain bike races a year for fun.
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Patrick Maynard, who will be writing about running and walking, has been a producer for since 2008. In 2009, he tweeted on-course for the Sun from the Baltimore Marathon, finishing in just under 4 hours and almost managing to run the whole time. He sometimes walks to the Sun offices on Calvert Street.
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Leeann Adams, a multimedia editor at The Baltimore Sun, also dabbles in content for the mobile website and iPhone app and covers the Ravens via video. She did a triathlon to celebrate her 40th birthday and continues to swim, bike and run -- none of them quickly, though. Her biggest fitness challenge is to balance working, working out, spending time with her husband and being a mom to a 6-year-old boy.
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Anica Butler, the Sun's crime editor, is a former high school runner and recovering vegetarian who spent more of her early-adult years on a bar stool than working out. She is currently training (though poorly) for a half marathon and is trying to live a generally healthier lifestyle. She also hates the gym.
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