Slow Swimmer Frustration.

Lane Rage!

Slow Swimmer Frustration.Swimming is regarded as the best overall exercise for the body, but what can be defined as swimming or exercise?  I’ve recently started swimming seriously again at my local health club, to be honest, it was either that or endure a punishing gym programme three times a week and the swimming is far less painful!  Anyway, on one of my last sessions in the pool, three ladies got into the pool, not much older than myself, who proceeded to do the classic heads out of the water breaststroke whilst chatting.  Fair enough if you want to ‘swim’ like this, but please don’t interfere with people who want a proper workout.  The set I had chosen to do was fifteen metres (one length) butterfly followed by a lazy one length back front crawl, mainly because breast stroke was out due to a knee injury and there wasn’t enough room incase I went off course on back stroke and ended up hitting someone!  Now butterfly is not an easy stroke, but provides a good workout, it also turns out that the three chatting ladies had also taken umbrage to the butterfly and told me to stop.  I calmly pointed out that this was a swimming pool, to which they retorted that they were trying to swim and that the pool was not big enough for fly.  I didn’t say anymore, but did move over to give them more room.


This is a common problem for people who want to have a proper workout in the swimming pool.  These three ladies were swimming side by side and doing their best to keep their heads dry and in the long term inflicting serious damage to the neck and back caused by excessive stress and strain (would you walk around town whilst having your head turned up towards the sky?), but conveniently forgetting in the process that a swimming pool is filled with water, so expecting to keep your hair dry, in perfect condition (like you’ve just stepped out of the hairdressers) and not be splashed by other swimmers, is completely unreasonable.  Now this particular pool does not have designated lanes, you just have to pick a space and go for it and on the whole, it is usually fine, until the aqua ladies (and they have a fierce reputation) get in up to ten minutes early and even though it is clear that you are swimming lengths will stand in your way, chatting and doing their warm-up (diving skills then become really handy and also the ability to slalom swim).
I probably have got off quite lightly, but others not so.  Lynne, a member of a swimming group on Facebook, confessed recently that she purposefully elbowed another swimmer and I think she did the right thing.  Lynne was overtaking a slower swimmer and another guy (with fins) decided to overtake her at the same time.  There was another swimmer coming in the opposite direction and it was a dogs’ breakfast, so she elbowed fins guy.  The fins guy should have held back and waited, after all you wouldn’t have done this whilst driving, or swam underneath (the fins would have given him the speed needed to do this).
Rich's Injured Arm
Rich's Injured Arm


Another member of the group, Rich and his swimming partner Mary, actually experienced physical assault by a slower swimmer.  The elderly lady in question, pushed off directly in front of Rob and Mary and because of her extreme slowness, it was necessary for them to overtake.  Now admittedly, overtaking isn’t the easiest thing to do, but fortunately the swimming lane was wide and not busy.  As they passed the woman, she scratched and pulled at them both and continued to swim as if nothing had happened.

Everybody has the right to swim, but common sense must also be used.  Larger swimming pools have designated lanes for different speeds; if you know you are a slow swimmer, please don’t put yourself in a fast lane, as it will just hold up everyone else!  Pay attention to the swimming pool timetable, it will give you a good idea of what is going on and when and will help to make your swim more enjoyable.  Be prepared to be overtaken, there will always be someone faster than you – however if you are the one overtaking, look where you going, treat it like driving down a road.  Probably the most important thing to remember is there is lots of water about please be prepared to get wet!

5 thoughts on “Lane Rage!”

  1. Loved your article – it is so true but I am lucky enough to swim at my local hotel leisure club after giving up at the public pools for the above reasons. Most of the time I can swim my 100 or 150 training lengths with no-one else in the 20 metre pool if I go at the right times. It’s a lot more expensive but worth it to me! I keep as close to the side as I can and take up only a very small corridor but incredibly you still get some buffoons who come in and try to swim right up against you with the rest of the pool empty. Doh!!

  2. Sorry to hear you have had bad experiences, but so have I. I never chat while swimmimg, but I do swim slowly -my only option. Also I love being in water (and getting wet), but find swimming up and down completely tedious. I am put off pools where there is some speedy Gonzales who insists on a right of way while everybody else have to leap out of the way. That doesn’t seem particularly considerate either. So whatever speed you want to swim, and in whatever way, let’s just consider each other, use lanes when they are there and equally respect slow users AND fast users. As you say, there should be space for all.

  3. Very accurate & truthful article. Being an open water swimmer who yearly succumbs to the chlorine hell I can only sympathise.It all boils down to wider lanes where you can overtake or avoid people.I was lucky enough once (once mind you) to find a pool that had a wide crawler lane a wide breast stroke lane a fast lane & a plodder lane.Perfect no issues even room for butterfly.
    If its too busy I go in the gym and come out later.Then I select the lane easiest to navigate sometimes slow sometimes medium sometimes fast then will move over because there is always someone in there who wants to race .
    I have three pet peeves 1 the loose women/bingo babe formation see above . 2 the saltire / flying coathanger breast strokers who can touch all four corners of the pool. 3 the people who overtake too late then stop dead causing an almighty pile up.

  4. Why do you assume that the faster swimmers should have priority? Whatever you thought of their strokes, those 3 women were swimming for their own pleasure, just as you do. I am one of the slower swimmers however I consider that I have as much right to be there as the racing snakes. I will allow faster swimmers to pass me at the end of the length with pleasure, however any swimmer who attempts to swim over me as some do will find themselves on the short end of my temper. Please look at your entitled attitude.

    1. We were actually swimming side by side, so I didn’t have to overtake. I don’t actually have a problem with slow swimmers and if it was proper lane swimming would be more than happy to overtake.

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