A Helpful Safety Guide To Public Swimming Pool Etiquette For The Illiterate

 Dear Person Who Cannot Read/Swim,


yokusuka-89827_1280As a staunch supporter of community public services, I have commandeered myself to remind you of the swimming etiquette in our local public pools. For while the lifeguards are confident to chat for hours with Kardashian-esque 20-30 year old, svelte swimmers in itsy-bitsy bikinis  erect signs with suggested swimming styles/speeds for each lane, they do not see it as part of their job description to enforce them.


The pool is a wonderful local facility and one in which everyone is encouraged to swim. Note my use of the verb ‘swim’ here, because that is the aim of the majority of members that come to the pool.


Understandably though – and please believe me when I say that I am as inclusive as the next person – some people prefer to thrash about like idiots/frolic/and generally act like they’ve never seen water before, and that is why the recreational lane is kindly donated for them in which to express themselves.


Fortunately, this leaves another four or five lanes for the serious ‘swimmers’. These are allocated fairly, to accommodate every level of swimming ability, from the slowest, most painful creepers, to the Porsches of the swimming world. That is why the boards state respectively, ‘slow lane’, ‘medium lane’ and ‘fast lane’.


Allow me to explain this more coherently:


If you cannot swim at all, or walk faster than you swim, are heavily pregnant, have mastered no other stroke than a doggy paddle, like to jiggle around embarrassingly to music in water or prefer to walk in the water because some hippy yoga teacher called Bluebell told you that this counts as exercise, you belong in the slow lane.


If you suspect that you are an average swimmer, which means that you don’t need an inhaler to breast stroke or the aid of flippers or snorkel, you can reach the other end without stopping, have acquired some breathing technique and swim much faster than the swimmers that bottle-neck in the slow lane, you may promote yourself to the medium lane.




The fast lane is as busy as the motorway to Mecca for the Hajj, causing the slower swimmers to hold up the roadrunners, who, (because they are familiar with swimming etiquette), have given way sulkily majestically and retrenched back into the medium lane. In that situation, you get back in the fucking slow lane with the kids and learners. News to you, I know, but it is indeed possible to switch lanes.


And so finally to the fast lane (sigh). On no account do you dip your toe in this holy water, unless: your body is as ripped as Michael Phelps and you possess the aquatic capabilities of the Man From Atlantis; you mastered not only free-style as a new-born, (even the breathing), you don’t splutter when water fills your goggles or gets up your nose, and you have the bionic speed to match the statement created by your bulging, white, G-string Speedos with matching swim cap; you also do a pretty good impression of the ‘butterfly’ stroke and have never second-guessed why it was invented or how silly it looks).


Yours faithfully,


Louisa Simmonds

Public Swimming Pools – Ten New Rules

swimming pool
swimming pool (Photo credit: freefotouk)

A polite message to my fellow swimmers, because it has come to my attention that when one swims to a near Olympian standard in a public pool, it is unfortunately necessary to share one’s water space with members of the public, who may not, necessarily, share the same rigid discipline principles.

I’ve been swimming professionally seriously, (for me), for almost a month now and I have become an expert on what the etiquette in the pool SHOULD BE. Like any sport, I fervently believe that there are simple, inherent rules that need to be adhered to, so that everyone can maximise the full potential of their training, and I would like to impose introduce a few special rules of my own:

  • Old people – First let me say that we love you and respect you but PLEASE stay in the f*cking slow lane. That lane (which is predominantly full of slow, age-challenged old people) is marked ‘slow’ for a reason. Let me reiterate that we are REALLY appreciative of everything you did for us in the war, but the whole point of lanes is that they have been created to cater for different swimming speeds, a bit like motorways, (although I know that you have problems with those too). If you ‘paddle’ or ‘float’ aimlessly, you have no right to be in either the ‘medium’ or the ‘fast’ lane.
  • Toddlers – please stick to your recreation area and stop swinging your arms, shouting with abandoned glee and generally spreading your pathetic mirth into the faces of the serious, focused swimmers in the other lanes adjacent to you.
  • Middle-Aged Women Who Think That Aqua-Aerobics Is A Sport – IT’S NOT! I’m glad you feel like you’re making an effort towards fitness by partaking in ‘aerobics’ (*spits in disgust*), but do you have to take up half the pool at peak times, leaving the serious swimmers to fight it out in single file lanes? You can’t seriously think you’re going to lose those wobbly bits flailing around in water, do you? You’d burn more calories walking to the coffee shop. And after your session, could you use the showers in shifts, please – a gaggle of over-50, naked women in the shower is really quite overbearing.
  • Anyone wearing a Band-Aid should not be allowed in the pool.
  • Just because you are wearing a swimming cap does not automatically give you ‘top dog swimmer status’ in the pool, the implication being that fellow swimmers should move out of your way.
  • Please don’t hog the wrong lane. If there is a jam of swimmers behind you, read the signs – YOU’RE PROBABLY IN THE WRONG F*CKING LANE, GRANDMA!
  • I would prefer it if children had their own changing room. I don’t want to listen to little kids having tanties about having to get out of the pool too early or catch them gawping in horror at my aging body when I’m changing. I have enough of a body image problem. Perhaps children under eighteen could  swim in a special children’s half hour between 5 and 5.30 am on a Saturday morning, say?
  • Power walking in the lane  – (WHAT THE FUCK IS THAT ALL ABOUT ANYWAY?) – should not be allowed. It’s what pavements are for.
  • ‘Landing strips’ are a necessity for all female ‘privates’ in the pool, and the upper thigh area of all men that wear those ridiculous ‘budgie-smugglers’ should be trimmed accordingly, (as well as back hair). I do not want to witness terminals 1,2 and 3 through my goggles.
  • Please don’t strip off in the shower if you’ve never heard of waxing, exercise or discretion. You can revel in your naked glory in your own shower at home.
  • Back-strokers – Just get out of the f*cking pool.

Anyone got anything to add?

New Year, New Body

A swimmer swimming
A swimmer swimming (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Now that the boxes have been unpacked, the mail has been redirected and we’ve discovered our new favourite local eateries, I’m running out of excuses for not doing any exercise. January is traditionally the month where I make another feeble attempt to retrieve my wedding day body. New year, new body.

So what’s this year’s abortive plan for ‘the body’, I hear you ask?

Well, last year you may remember, I dipped my toe into the yoga arena (Can Yoga Help Me Find My Core?) in the hope of finally locating my ‘core’, because that is apparently the precursor to true fitness (eternal life, lifestyle and happiness) and prevents us falling prey to the dreaded ‘embarassing leakage’ problem which haunts every middle-aged woman. All my friends had been yabbering on about the benefits of yoga for absolute donkeys years, like it’s as important as Chardonnay or something, so I obviously HAD to give it a try. The high point was the confirmation that my body is physiologically completely ill-suited to extreme sports; the low point being when I fanny-farted in the middle of my Cowface pose.

So this year I decided to go back to the basics, to a sport I trained in for a long time (until I began to take sport really seriously with the Jane Fonda Workout), and even enjoyed on occasion. (Hmmm, ‘enjoyed’ is probably a slight over-exaggeration, but then exercise has never been something I’d really make a choice to do if, say, I wasn’t a) unfit and b) overweight). So the sport I’ve decided put my faith into this year, to truly give me the best chance of becoming Louisa ‘The Body’ Simmonds, is swimming.

As luck would have it, we find ourselves in the vicinity of an enticing 50m pool, a little too close for comfort, to the new abode and as I need to shed at least 5kg and at the same time expose the ADHDer to some direct sunlight, due to tangible concern over his vitamin D levels, (as rather like RPatz in Twilight, his skin appears to cristalize when exposed to UV rays), swimming seems like a good idea.

But there are obvious concerns. Although I have matured beyond the sharks- entering-the-pool-via-the-plug-phobia, (being a sucker for any ‘rogue shark movie’), exposure of the middle-aged spread is obviously my biggest fear.

Such personal exposure transcends all sorts of mental body image issues. Exfoliation is the first major problem and the need to constrain wobbly ‘bits’ (hairy or otherwise) is the second, because the underwater swimmer can see EVERYTHING.

I’m certainly not averse to borrowing the old man’s razor at Christmas or on his birthday but waxing is something I only do to avoid looking like Magnum or my son, who currently believes that cultivating the bum-fluff upper lip look is cool. Having said that, I did notice a particularly long, rogue hair sprouting halfway down my inner left thigh the other day, (which provoked a horrified ‘eeeeewwwww’ from Nerd Queen, who I always enjoy shocking), so some work may need to be done in that area; purely for the sake of aqua-dynamics.

A friend of mine swims free-style for an hour, four times a week; (yes, you heard right). Our lengthy swimming strategy talks have informed me that, apparently, ‘free-style’ doesn’t mean any style’; it is what we Brits term ‘front crawl’. Not that that is really going to be an issue for me as I have never progressed beyond a hybrid doggy/breast stroke style. But unfortunately, our local pool doesn’t cater for doggy paddlers so I may be forced to begin my training in the recreation lane.

To demonstrate my commitment, I thought I might invest in one of these colourful Speedo cozzies that Olympic ‘swimmers’ wear, although it has come to my attention that they offer very little by way of support to the breast area and I am concerned that having the teabags swing freely around my waistband may constrict my aqua-dynamics too.

The other issue with swimming in a serious pool that I have always struggled to come to terms with, is swimming in a straight line. The last time I tried I ended up lacerating my ankles quite seriously in several places on the lane ropes, leading to several head-on collisions whilst being overtaken as I fumbled around trying to un-mesh my tethered feet – anyone who has done this will understand immediately how much it hurts. So I’m wondering if the ADHDer could somehow tow me along, rather like a car, by letting me hold onto his feet.

After further consideration, I’m beginning to think that I may need January to make my preparations fully and will commit physically to the ‘new body’ in February. In the meantime, I may take a few really long showers to acclimatise.