Wednesday, September 7, 2011

A letter to the lady in the fast lane

Dear lady swimming in the fast lane,

I hope you had a lovely swim today.  I know I enjoyed mine.  Thorncliffe is a nice pool, isn't it?  It's a nice big facility.  The locker room is nice and clean.  They even have babysitting, and it made it so that I could get my swim in during the day.  The pool itself is decent.  Maybe a tiny bit warm, but not bathtub like.  They've got those little ropes dividing the lanes, and those cute signs at the end of the lanes that say "slow", "medium", and "fast".

Fast is such a relative term, isn't it?  I consider myself a great example of this relativity.  I don't generally consider myself a fast swimmer, but in the swims I've done at city pools, I've been the fastest person there.  So, on those days, I'm fast.  At my regular pool, I swim the same speed, but I'm rarely fast.  I'm usually medium, and occasionally slow, depending on who else is swimming that day.

Like I said, fast is relative.

Except when you aren't even relatively fast.

With all due respect, if I lap you every other length of the pool, you are not fast.  If I pass you while doing a kickset with a flutterboard and no flippers, you are not fast.  If my four year old can swim faster then you, you are not fast.

And that's okay.  There is nothing wrong with not being a fast swimmer.  Everybody has different reasons for swimming.  I do it to race, so I am always trying to get faster.  Some people simply enjoy their time in the pool.  Some don't like to get their hair wet.  Some are rehabilitating from an injury.

There is nothing wrong with being a slow swimmer...

Unless you choose to swim in the lane that has the cute little sign with the letters: F - A - S - T.  If you choose to swim in that lane, you should be able to consider yourself fast, at least relatively.

Please enjoy your swims, and please consider the cute little signs in the future.


Deb, a sometimes, relatively fast swimmer


  1. Don't even get me started on the swimmers (if that's what you even call it) at Thorncliffe!

    I have cut my workouts short a few times because I thought I might lose it on some of the lane walkers/crossers/chatters in the medium lane!!

  2. I thought of myself as a fast swimmer.....until one day a 6 year old smoked me ever lap in the pool. Still, that lady needs to get out of the way!

  3. That may be the freaking funniest post I have ever read! I love it!

  4. Well, as one of those people who thoroughly understands "fast" is contextual, there are some strategies. If the people you are swimming with relatively belong in the fast lane with you, or you with them, go with the flow, hopefully passing and letting others pass at the lane end. Maybe you'll be lucky and all swim about the same speed. That is lots of fun. I've never talked to a swimmer that wasn't happy to clarify who was doing what. It's the floaties you've got to watch for.

    In your situation, where the person doesn't belong in the fast lane, I'll try to talk to them about it. If there is no chance to talk I give them a few passes to let them realize there is a speed difference. If they don't get the hint, especially if the other lanes have space, then I don't feel much urge to add to my swim distance by leaving lots of room when I pass. I'll pass quite closely, as fast as I can. By closely, I mean as close as humanly possible without actually touching, except for touching their feet just before I pass. After all, that is the sign to indicate you are going to pass, which is doing them a favour.

    There are times to go into a lane that has people swimming faster than you. Like when you really want to dig in and have a strong swim and need someone to chase. Or you are doing intervals and can fit in with them for 50 or 100 m at a time. This assumes you know what your faster swim speeds are for those distances, compared to those in the lane now. And the problem with being the slowest swimmer in a lane is that you have to keep track of who is coming up behind you.

    My wording for people I don't know joining me, and don't look like swimmers, if you know what I mean, is to tell them I'll be swimming at x pace doing flip turns. Sometimes they nod and say they can keep up, but often they get a wide eyed look, and find another lane. Lots of less experienced swimmers get nervous about other people doing flip turns while they are standing at the end of the pool.

  5. This post cracked me up! We don't have designations at my pool, but I know if we did I would always be in the SLOW lane....well except some days when the 100 years olds swim..then I guess I would be fast...relatively speaking!