Earlier today, I went to the swimming pool. This pool is part of a rather stuffy country club but I’ve never had any problems with their rules throughout my membership.
When I got to the pool, it had been divided into 3 sections: two single lanes side by side and one big area where an exercise class was taking place. One of the single lanes was occupied by a woman swimming up and down, as one does; the other lane was empty. I got into the empty lane and began swimming.
After a few slow warm-up lengths, I wanted to do some sprints. My favourite stroke is back crawl as I used to swim it for my school’s team. When one gets to the end of a length in this stroke, there are two options if you want to continue swimming. You can stop and turn yourself around, which many people do, but this process is slow.
In races, the tumble turn is preferred. For this, a back crawler gets very close to the wall and switches for one stroke onto their front. Then they roll forwards so that their feet touch the wall and then they push off and begin the back crawl again. This is the method I prefer and when performed correctly, there is minimal or no splashing.
Only one end of the pool was deep enough to do this turn so I would only sprint two lengths at a time. The lifeguard had no problem with me doing these turns and nobody in the exercise class seemed bothered either, but the woman in the lane next to me was not happy.
While I was resting in the shallow end, she pulled up next to me and told me to “stop mucking about and swim properly.” (I don’t know if mucking about is a phrase that has made it across the pond, but just in case, it means playing/messing around. Almost exclusively used when talking to children). I was quite confused and I replied, “But I am swimming properly.”
“No, you’re playing in the deep end and that is not why we come here.”
“Oh, are you talking about the roll I do at the end of a length? Oh, see, that’s just a way of turning that racers use.”
“Well, you go too fast and nobody’s racing here!”
“Too fast? I wasn’t aware there was a speed limit. And I just like to turn around like that.”
“Well you shouldn’t! You’re flashing your fanny in the air and it’s disgraceful!”
(NB: This move does involve turning upside down so one’s backside does indeed come out of the water briefly – and fanny refers to a lady’s privates in the UK. Obviously, I was wearing a swimming costume, so there was no inappropriate flashing involved.)
“Well, you’re the only one who seems bothered by it, and it’s a perfectly legitimate swimming technique.”
“You’re splashing me when you do it!”
“That’s not possible. The move doesn’t make any splash because it’s mostly underwater.”
“I don’t understand why you’re being so difficult, young lady. You should respect your elders and when they tell you to stop doing something, you stop!”
I am at least 40 years younger than this woman, but I didn’t see why that should make any difference. “Well, I’m sorry you feel that way, but I’m not going to change how I swim just because you don’t like it.”
The woman stalked out of the pool with an extremely sour look on her face. I stayed in the pool 15 minutes longer than I had planned because I didn’t want to run into her in the changing room.
The lifeguard never said anything about my turning being inappropriate and nobody else in the pool was paying any attention to it because all of them were all part of the exercise class.
I really don’t understand why this woman got so annoyed over the way I swam. Was I being difficult, like she said? Should I have modified my swimming? 0517-13
While some of Old Lady’s complaints appear to be manufactured, the key phrase she used was, “You’re splashing me when you do it!” You yourself admit that the roll over does not create any splash *if performed correctly*. It is very plausible that your technique wasn’t as good as you thought it was and you actually were splashing her more than you realized. Old Lady did not articulate her gripes concisely and effectively and you were not amenable to listening to catch any valid point she may have had.