Anyone who has considered taking up swimming for purposes of relaxation should forget it. In my opinion, swimming in a communal pool carries a level of stress equivalent to that of a fighter-pilot in battle mode. Forget those banal signs about ‘not diving off the side’ etc. These are the real rules of pool etiquette:
When someone politely suggests that your five-year old should not be launching himself off the side into – or rather on top of – oncoming swimmers, do not spring to his defence by leaping into the water and attacking that individual. Yup! Happened to me.
I just happened to look askance at said child who narrowly missed landing on my head and dad was in the water pronto to land a crippling kick on my shins. May the powers of darkness rot his budgie smugglers!
Do keep your nails long – preferably filed to a sharp point – for purposes of self-defence and meting out justice to any miscreants like those described above.
Watch out for anyone who casually drapes their bath-robe over the chair where you’ve left your towel/shampoo. Chances are your belongings won’t be there when you get back. (That’s happened to me, too!)
No-one objects to you clocking up your lengths, but don’t be a pool-hog. Swimming over any object that gets in your way – usually another, slower swimmer – is not acceptable behaviour.
Please, please don’t swim in pairs for a leisurely chat. It’s a huge obstacle to other swimmers who usually collide in their attempts to get round you.
Even worse, don’t hang around the end of the pool having a lengthy conference with your mates. It’s really irritating for anyone trying to complete their lengths and who, like me, has an irresistible desire to touch the end just to prove they’ve done it!
Don’t pick up your children by the ankles, swing them around your head and then let go to see how far they travel. This is a swimming-pool not the highland games!
If you’ve never done it before, don’t try to hoist yourself out of the pool. While Olympic athletes may exit with one effortless leap, you are more likely to get stuck mid-way; less Tom Daley, more wallowing hippo. Play it safe. Use the steps.
Beware of anyone who suggests installing ‘lanes’ in your favourite pool because “this is how it was done at my old swimming-club”. Note the word ‘old’. Chances are that person was ejected from their former swimming-club for possessing a high irritation factor. Most casual swimmers are sensible enough to manoeuvre around each other without the need for unnecessary nannying.
If aqua-aerobics begins at 8.30 – and you are not a participant – make sure you leave the pool at 8.20. Otherwise, you risk being swamped by an avalanche of foam objects being chucked into the water and a herd of exercise fanatics who always arrive early to stake their claim.
It may feel a bit unfair to be cheated of an extra 10 minutes but it’s worth it to avoid the shoal of floundering bodies and the assault on your ears from the instructor’s tinny CD player. If, against all reason, you find yourself jigging along to the rhythm, just repeat this mantra: “I came here to swim, not to be cheerful. I hate this pool and everyone in it!”
It always works for me!