Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Masters Swimming, Manners and the Kevlar Swimsuit

I am new to swimming. Actually, new to the "sport" of swimming. In case you are new to reading my blog, I only learned how to swim properly last year. February will mark my one year anniversary as a "real swimmer."

When someone wants to learn how to swim and compete in triathlons, it is highly recommended that they join a Masters program at a nearby pool. I did just that and I still consider myself relatively new to the ins and outs of Masters swimming and "formal" swimming with a group. Which is why the events that are about to unfold below came as a total surprise to me.

First, let me say that I LOVE my Masters group. We have a great coach, the people are friendly, the pool is relatively uncrowded (usually 1-2 swimmers per lane), there is a wide age range, and most of the folks who swim are there for recreation/fitness purposes. (I'm not telling you where I swim for precisely those reasons!) Occasionally we get a visitor or two, but last week we had a couple of swimmers who are, what I call, "pro swimmers." My definition would be that these are former college athletes or elite swimmers of some sort who take their workouts very seriously. They attack the water, swim very fast, and know all the strokes.

These two were in the lane next to mine, churning up the pool and splashing all about as I obediently swam my sets. Outside of needing to keep my goggles on for kick sets so I could actually see where I was going amidst the spray, everything seemed to be working out just fine. Then, a nick here, a scrape there. He was leaking into my lane. I was slightly annoyed because I try to stay closer to the middle of my lane as I swim rather than at the lane line, but it wasn't like it was the first time I'd made some contact with another swimmer.

Then IT happened...

I started off the first of 4x100 freestyle. About halfway back down the pool on the return, I felt something hit me square in the crotch, briefly tangle in my suit bottoms, then continue going. Of course it only happened in the split second of a single stroke, but actually felt like a slow motion replay.

My head popped out of the water and I yelled, "Well, dammit!" One of the other regulars asked me what happened and I told him. He told me that happens sometimes. I told him I realized that, but it didn't make it any less startling! I made my way to the wall and the guy who did it finished his set. What really pissed me off was that he didn't even apologize. I would think, especially if you are an experienced swimmer, that you would realize when you touch something other than water, like when you grab a hand full of another person's swimsuit, you would realize it an at least apologize when you got the opportunity.

Well, he didn't.

After I told him what happened he apologized, but it felt more like an obligatory apology rather than something more sincere. Then he went on with his workout.

Everyone seemed to make light of it, but I was still pretty pissed off. Again, it wasn't so much that contact had occurred, or even the location of said contact, but the simple fact that he didn't offer up a friendly apology when he had the chance. Am I really out of line to expect that? On the couple of occasions that I've inadvertently done that, I've quickly apologized. But maybe because that's because I have manners.

He was at the next two workouts, but I paired up with another regular. It meant I had to swim on the wall, but I'd take that any day over combat swimming. And when someone asked why I wasn't swimming in my regular lane, I told them it was because, "I didn't wear my Kevlar swimsuit!" We all got a laugh out of that one.