Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Trouble that starts with “T” that rhymes with “P”

posted Thu, 12 Aug 2004

Thursday morning is the worst morning to swim. It’s the day of the masters’ swim team workout, which means it is the day that all the triathletes and the dilettantes show up. Which means that the pool is too crowded for those of us who have the legitimate first dibs on the lanes – those of us who have been swimming at this pool EVERY weekday morning for the past four and a half years.

Why should I have to put up with these amateurs? They start coming in February or March to prepare for triathlon season. Or maybe they just want to get into shape. Usually, they don’t last. Most people don’t have the discipline (or the sheer stubbornness) to get up at 5:15 a.m. just to get into a pool at 6:00 a.m.

I myself think it is a form of mental illness – just one that is not viewed as pejoratively as others are. Walking around without making eye contact while talking to yourself is a sign of psychosis or of a cellphone with an earplug – either way, it’s nature’s way of warning you to stay away from this particular person. Getting up early to exercise should be equally alarming to normal folks, but we wierdos have done a much better job of marketing and have everyone convinced that we are morally superior because of our workout habits.

Really, though, it’s a pathetic excuse for a sad life if the best thing someone can do that early in the morning is exercise. Better to stay up late carousing the night before and sleep in – which is why most people don’t last at it. But enough have endured this season to be quite annoying. I don’t want to share my lane with anyone. But on Thursdays, I sometimes have to share with more than one person.

Yes. I have to circle swim. That is hell for a lazy swimmer like me. These guys get into the lane with me and they are going to show how tough they are, Mr Machos getting up to swim at 6:00 a.m. in their little Speedos. (It’s bad enough being up that early but then to have to see middle-aged men in Speedos under fluorescent light – ugh.)

Circle swimming, in theory, means that swimmers of approximately equal speed swim the same stroke and set counterclockwise in the lane, going up the right side and returning on the opposite side. This theory works just fine in theory, but in practice, I am always stuck with swimmers who are faster than I am and who want to pass me. But they don’t pass the way you are supposed to pass when you circle swim, which is to stop about ten feet short of the pool wall and turn there. No, they swim really fast right as we are both approaching the wall and then try to beat me to the wall. Of course, I have no idea another swimmer is that close to me because I don’t have a rear-view mirror in my goggles, so what happens is that we collide.

One guy in particular – I’ll call him Bubba #1 – likes to swim backstroke. Let me preface this part by saying Bubba #1 is the lifeguard. He is at this pool 35 hours a week. Most of the time, there is no one in it. But the one morning he swims laps is – you guessed it – Thursday. Why he can’t do it in any of the other 34 hours I do not know.

Bubba #1 also gets on my nerves because he always wants to talk to me in the morning. Honey. It’s 6:00 a.m. I don’t even talk to my friends and family at that hour, and I love them. The only thing that makes exercising bearable at such a horrible hour is I can stay sort of asleep until I am out of the pool getting dressed. I certainly do not want to engage in any human interaction of any sort, especially with a lifeguard who always says the same things – cheerfully. “Got your lane right here!” and “Way to go! Great workout!”

He has even had the nerve to direct people to my lane when all the lanes are full. I say let people choose their own lane – maybe they’ll choose someone else’s. Usually, though, women for sure get in the lane with me and usually men do, too. I think men do it because they see a woman swimmer as less of a threat – they think they can hog up all the space and not get challenged on it – but that another male swimmer wouldn’t put up with that baloney. And women would rather share a lane with another woman (and there are about two of us who swim regularly) than with a man they don’t know.

So Bubba #1 gets in the lane I’m in and swims backstroke. This guy is about 6’4” and lumbering. His backstroke is not precise and neat – instead, his arms go WAY to the side (waste of energy – bad stroke). Because he is on his back, he cannot see the other swimmers, so he ends up clobbering someone with his wide stroke.

Bubba #2 is this short, overly-muscular guy who always wears scrubs over his Speedo (not in the pool, of course). I guess we are supposed to know he is a doctor because of this. He thinks he owns all the space in the lane. His rule appears to be that I will swim the sides while he swims on the line (the black line painted on the bottom of the pool down the middle of the lane). He has almost hit me head-on before. He has actually clobbered me with his arm before. Jerk.

I want these people to go away. Why don’t they just take up bowling or heroin instead of swimming? I can’t wait for triathlon season to be over.

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