Was in the pool just after 6 this morning to do a km. It was pretty busy and lots of the people in the slow lane with me were very slow swimmers and obviously not confident in the water. That doesn’t bother me – everyone has different abilities and I’m sure I look as awkward to the fast lane people as some of the slow lane people look to me. The slow lane is a very mixed ability lane – it seems to range from almost complete beginners to competent swimmers who are slower than me, competent swimmers about my level and competent swimmers who are faster and fitter than me but not fast enough for the medium lane. I’m easily 15-20 seconds slower than the medium lane swimmers.
So, there were 4 or 5 very slow swimmers in this morning so there were times when I had to overtake or take over 2 minutes per length/risk sinking through swimming so slowly. I think I tried hard to be a considerate overtaker, waiting till there was plenty of space, passing as far over as I could and not moving back in until I was well ahead to minimise splashing/kicking people in the head. However on at least two occasions I was overtaking about 10m from the end of the lane and hindered by some of the less confident swimmers choosing to set off from the end I was approaching at exactly same time as they saw me passing the person I was overtaking, leaving me with no room at all. Now, I know you’re thinking “why bother overtaking so close to the end?” and my answer to that is “because these people repeatedly failed to let me pass at the end.” Seriously, even though I was giving them a 25m head start and still on their heels by the end of the length, they would not wait three seconds to let me pass them at the end of the lane. So I was trying to get past them where there was obviously room to do so to prevent a bottleneck going the other way. And there were lots of lengths where there was no space to overtake at all so rather than barge past I stayed behind people and floated along behind them hoping they’d let me past at the end (which they never did).
Anyway, after about 12 lengths the pool attendant called me over at the end of the lane and explained that some people had complained I was overtaking and asked if I wanted to move to the medium lane. I explained that I am way too slow for the medium lane and we had a chat about how the slow lane is a very mixed ability lane. I said I wouldn’t be happy in the medium lane because I know I would be holding up every single person in that lane, and he said fair enough, in that case you’re better off in the slow lane and overtaking safely. So I said well, I am trying to overtake safely and I hope I’m not being risky or selfish in my overtaking but if you have concerns about how I’m doing it, I’m happy to be told, and he said no, I’ve been watching and you’re fine with what you’re doing so carry on. So I carried on but it really felt awkward after that. It really bugs me when people in the slow lane charge past everyone just for the sake of it and overtake badly just because they have to get past and I try really hard not to do that, and it’s upset me to think people think that’s what I’m doing, especially when they don’t have the sense to wait two seconds at the end to give me time to get past them without overtaking. And really, you’d think people would understand that it’s possible for someone to be faster than them but still not fast enough for the medium lane.
One of the regular women I see most mornings asked me what was going on so I told her about the conversation with the guard, and she said I was fine – my overtakes were fine and I wasn’t swimming inconsiderately, and then she said it was probably one of the men who didn’t like being overtaken by a woman and then we laughed and then I did my last length and got out feeling a bit better.