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Keep your cool in the pool- or how to avoid lane rage!

Pools are busier than ever and I’m sure you too have experienced or witnessed incidents of ‘lane rage’ maybe caused by super slow swimmers in the fast lane, people just not noticing other swimmers or even incidents like someone walking backwards down the swimming lane! Whilst ideally, we should be able to rely on lifeguards to manage the pool, this is not always the case so to make sure we enjoy our swimming it’s important to find a way to negotiate the lanes. 

Here are some tips to help your swim session go smoothly, with thanks to fellow TI coach Penny Wilkin from www.youcancoaching.co.uk

  • Before getting in the water take a minute to look at the pool and identify any slow/fast lanes and which lanes are swimming clockwise or anti-clockwise. If there are no signs, then ask the lifeguards or other swimmers.
  • It’s a great idea to make friends with people – say good morning, chat, break the ice; making it personal makes for a more pleasant pool where people are more likely to let you pass, push off etc. You can also talk to other swimmers about what reps you are doing and ask them about their swim set so you can co-operate and negotiate with each other. If you start the conversation other people will follow.
  • Look before you push off the wall, and judge the pace of the swimmers in front of you or those coming in to the wall so that you don’t push off into someone, or just as another swimmer is turning at the wall
  • If a slower swimmer is in front of you, give them a big gap before pushing off so you have room to swim.
  • If you want to overtake a swimmer, make sure you have the speed to do so! If you cannot overtake then ditch your length, turn round and swim back and re-start your rep so there is more space.
  • If you notice a faster swimmer behind you getting closer, then let them push off first at the end of the lane.
  • If you are resting, try and rest to one corner of the lane so that other swimmers have enough room to turn.
  • In some pools, it is common practice for a faster swimmer to touch the toes of a swimmer in front to indicate that they would like to pass – if this happens to you try not to be offended!
  • In busy lanes accidental touching happens and its usually nothing more than swimmers being a bit clumsy or losing concentration. If you get bumped into just let it go, and if you are the clumsy swimmer then apologise and check the other person is OK.
  • It is easy to get frustrated with other people in the lane – but this just creates stress and ruins your swim. Remind yourself of what is important and why you are here. Wherever you can practice patience, tolerance and calm – this has the added bonus of helping your focus which will make for a better swim.
  • If you do find yourself stuck behind super slow swimmers who do not know about lane etiquette, ask the lifeguard to suggest they move somewhere more suited to their swim. Likewise, if someone gets angry with you ask the lifeguard to deal with it – it never gets any better if you try and deal with it yourself.
  • If all else fails then ditch your carefully planned distance and speed swim, be flexible, take the time to practice your technique, work through some drills, short reps or maybe count strokes, work on breathing, focal points etc. Swimming more carefully and mindfully is a great way to learn balance and give your brain time to think and coordinate your body to move efficiently.

Whilst many of us have experienced or witnessed lane rage it is important to keep a sense of perspective and remember that, no matter how frustrating or annoying or just plain ridiculous it seemed at the time it is after all, just swimming!

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