Feeling threatened

The swimming pool at Equinox Great Neck is a short course with only three lanes: Slow, Medium and Fast. I would swim in any of them because no one observe the speed but vacancy. If a lane isn’t empty, I’d wait and then ask “may I join you in the lane?” Most of time, the answer’s a simple yes. Then we’ll decide ‘side’ or ‘circle’. The first choice at this club is always ‘taking side’ rather than circle. I would swim on either side the pool lanes (slow or fast) as long as it’s empty, because I’m afraid to be the one who takes the wall side. Personally I prefer circling, only because I swim free style for my 40 laps straight, I don’t like to be interrupted. When you circle, there is no need to be stopped by new arrival; and I never said no to anyone who wanted to join my lane.

Nov 4, 2012

Nov 4, 2012

In my past experience at this club, the real swimmers (mostly men and rare) would say: “Sure, did you tell the other swimmer?” (in the same lane) or let me to pick a side. The weekend hackers usually asked, “why can’t you swim in that lane?” a lane with less people – usually a lonesome dove, but never once refused me to join.

When I got to the pool deck today at 8am, there were five in the water: one in the Slow (left) lane and two in each other lanes. I first asked the singleton in the slow lane if I could join him. He pointed to the wall side of the lane. I then asked the two in the middle lane, one woman and one man if they mind to circle.
The man: “Why can’t you swim in that lane?” he pointed to the slow lane.
“I’m sorry but I don’t like to swim along the wall.” I replied.
By now the woman came back to the end, and joined the discussion.
“Oh no, you can’t do this to me again. You go swim in that lane. He (in man in her lane) is a slow swimmer and I’m fast. You’re fast. It won’t work and I won’t let you to ruin my swim today.”
I vaguely remembered her: her forceful manner/voice and body shape. Last weekend (or was it two weekends ago?) I jumped into the middle lane when I failed to spot the 4th swimmer in the lane – this shows the benefit of circling -> no need to stop others. She told me to get out. The rule posted on the wall allows only 4 people in a lane. She’s right. I moved immediately.

“No one likes to swim by the wall ..” she commented and swam away on the left side of the lane.

Hmmm… that’s not true, not at all. If the pool is busy and I’m doing breast and/or back stokes when I can see well, I always voluntarily move to the wall side: a little consideration benefits.

Where’s common courtesy? Where’s the etiquette??

I called the club, twice, Joe (Joel?) came up at 8:10.
I explained the situation. He turned around to read the regulations/signs on the wall, then assured me, “sure you can swim in this lane.”
He then informed the woman to circle.
The woman protested; said I didn’t know the etiquette .. I did this and that  .. asked Joe if he swims.
“No I don’t swim.”
She then lectured Joe on the swimming etiquette and complained more and then pressed Joe that really, I can be allowed in her lane.
Joe said ‘Yes’ again.
She then raised her two hands, said to me,
“Well, if you want to be a jerk, then I guess you can.”
Joe immediately jumped in, “wow, that’s a strong language ..”
The woman won’t give up, said just because I’m a sneat (? I don’t know the word, nor I ever heard it used in swimming) swimmer (from the motion she demonstrated and what she said afterward ..I take it probably means my arms are all over the place ?) that didn’t give me the right to refuse to swim by the wall side of the lane; that I hit her in the lane before.
On rare occasions, my hand brushed others, yes – it could be that the other swimmer was too close to the center of the lane. This is a common occurrence, like once in 10 outings.
Her accusation was a fabrication, I didn’t remember I ever had any ‘contact’ with her. I actually would want to stay far away from her because she wore hand paddles.
I don’t know how other view how I swim .. but I do know I’m a neat swimmer who doesn’t hit others in the lane. Beside, circle or taking side, the width of the lane doesn’t change. So what’s the point??
The man came back from his lap, and asked, “she can swim in this lane EVEN the two other lanes are empty?”
Joe replied ” .. Yes.”
Thanks Joe for standing up for me. Although I won’t join the circling if other lanes are empty but ultimately, anyone could decide where to swim.
Joe left and I joined the middle lane. The man was really s-l-o-w but was decent enough to let me pass without any fuss. I passed him every 2-3 laps and after about 20 laps, he announced “I’m leaving”.
Normally, I would stop briefly to bid the person a goodbye or a ‘thank you’ for letting me know. I didn’t today because I just wanted to finish my laps and leave.
I continued in circles. On my next two laps, I could see the woman was standing by the end. On my next trip back, she tapped on my shoulder. I ignored her: I didn’t want any confrontation nor interrupt my laps. Then a couple of stokes after I made an U-turn at the other end, I found her stood on her left hand side – which was my right hand side – I almost crashed into her – and held up her hand that wore a hand paddle, screamed condescendingly,
“Hello !!! When two people in the lane, WE t-a-k-e side.”
I was shaken: felt threatened and angry.
Threatened: I was in a bathing suit (yes sure she’s too .. ) and so close to the aggressor who’s far bigger than I’m physically.
Angry: how could anyone so openly ignored the very basic safety issue?!?! It’s very dangerous to me who could NOT see ahead?
That woman does free style too (so she should know better ..), who also just lectured about etiquette not long ago, would in turn to jeopardize others knowingly??

I called Joe again. He and Alex came up just about the time the woman left. Joe told Alex that that woman’s
“very nasty”.
They said they’ll try to catch her before she leaves. I hope they did.

A couple of notes to the club:

  1. Make a sign indicating that two swimmers in a lane, can either circle or take side. A second thought: what to do when two could not come to a mutual agreement?
  2. Should hand paddles/flippers be allowed in the pool? I don’t see any harm done by flippers but hand paddles? What if the wearer is a ‘sneat‘ swimmer?

Jan 8: I re-signed the membership contract. Yes Joe was able to have a talk with the woman last Sunday. (Joe’s good: with goggles and caps, facial recognition should be low, at least to me.)

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