There are signs all over the entrance to the Brown pool and at the end of each lane proclaiming, "Please Circle Swim. 6-10 Swimmers Per Lane." The lanes are divided into 3 fast lanes, 2 medium lanes, 2 slow lanes, and 1 water walking lane. Each lane is 50 meters long, and, seriously, at least 1 1/2 times wider than the lanes at the Y. There is LOTS of space.
Still, you run into people who are very concerned about not having enough space. Rebecca told me the first time she and Tad asked a girl in a lane if they could circle swim, she totally gave them attitude. Then, last Saturday morning Rebecca and I had our own run-in.
A very buff older gentleman was not happy about sharing lanes. Initially we stood outside the pool at the end of the lane, waiting for him to pause, which he never did. And it wasn't like we could just start swimming because he was very definitely swimming up and back on one side of the lane. So finally we got IN the lane and made him stop so we could ask if we could circle.
His response: "Well, we can try. Until I have to do butterfly."
Okay, sir, this lane is very wide. I think we can avoid your massive wingspan. (NOTE: his wingspan was not massive.)
Then, after I swam a bit, I paused to put on fins. I scooted waaaay over to one side of the lane. Mr. Wingspan decided to do his flipturn RIGHT next to me, and after he flipped, he took the time to pop his head up and say, "ExCUSE me" in a very snarky way.
Now, at the Y, no one LIKED circle swimming. But we all recognized that it has to happen from time to time, and reactions from people when you asked if you could circle swim varied from indifferent to extremely accepting. Now that I've swam at the Brown pool a few times, I've determined that circle swimming is just a way of life there because a lot of people use the Brown pool.
So I was seething a little bit, but I decided to not let it bother me too much (though it kind of did.) The next time he and I paused at the same time, he made some remark about swimming IMs and how tough his workout was. Despite being braggy, it was verging on cordial.
By the end of the swim, Mr. Wingspan had decided that I was okay, I guess, because he got downright chatty. We talked about how nice the pool is and I told him how I was swimming at the Y until recently. He told me he used to swim at the old Providence Y when he was 13 in 1963. (Mr Wingspan, I have to give you credit. You are pretty darn fit for a 63 year-old! Heck, let's be honest. You're pretty darn fit for a 23 year-old!)
I attribute his attitude shift to (A) Rebecca and I totally holding our own with him in the lane, and (B) my sparkling personality. Mostly A, though. I have a theory that since I don't look like someone's idea of a competent swimmer, the more type A swimmer might worry that I'll just get in his/her way. However, when I prove myself, there's a noticeable attitude shift. This is not the first time something similar has happened.
Still, there's no excuse for rudeness at the pool, Mr. Wingspan.