Swimming is a communal activity: discuss

29/03/2010 at 4:12 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

I had Usual Pool to myself this morning and gosh, it was lovely. I’m well aware that pools are not viable if they are not used, but avoiding the stress of worrying about being too fast or too slow or bumping into someone or being bumped into definitely makes for a more pleasurable experience (and I was lucky this morning, I’d forgotten the pool was supposed to be closed until 9am and it just happened to open early).

On Saturday I went to the Oasis, which is my nemesis of pools, although it is nice to be in the open air. Also there are lots of characters in the ladies’ changing rooms. One woman went up to me apropos of nothing and said, pointing,  ‘that lady there, she comes all the time and she never brings a towel, just uses the paper from the loos’. Another couple of my sister swimmers spent 10 minutes berating the state of the changing rooms (they aren’t wrong) before saying ‘but I wouldn’t want them to do them up, then they’d just close for six months’ and her companion said ‘oh yes, and they’ll ruin it like they did the Mornington which has no atmosphere anymore and the showers are always too cold’.  There’s nothing like the camaraderie arising from what is, if you think about it, something of  a surreal and artificial situation.

Yet… swimming is largely a solo activity, I think. Which is why people enter ‘the zone’ while swimming and kick off without noticing you are there (this happened on Saturday morning). And if your pool is busy, then lanes are the only way to get people swimming behind each other at sort-of the same speed (Usual Pool can get away without lanes, as it’s not busy and, as an occupational pool, is mostly used by adults swimming lengths). Outdoor Swimming Friend tells me that pool attendants at her Lunchtime Pool, in the Borough of Merton, won’t put lanes in as a matter of course and, if she requests they they put one in, complain that they will have to remove it later (she suggested that they might prefer not to come to work as they only have to go home again at the end of the day).  I’m a librarian myself, and do encounter colleagues occasionally that loathe their facility being ruined by those pesky customers, but you do wonder why people work in customer service environments if they don’t like people.

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