I may be leading a dual life—“too nice” on land yet aloof in the pool, especially among people who don’t know me well.
While I could cite many, many examples to support both sides of my split personality, here are just a few recent examples that seem to support my supposed swim-snobbery:
I often end up swimming by myself, even within practice: For example, on Super Bowl Sunday I opted to do the stroke set as written, but no one else did. So, it was easier to shift over one lane and swim by myself because even though it was long course meters, I knew that my stroke intervals would eventually place me in the way of the freestyle interval swimmers.
I don’t meet and greet well: I’ve been pondering a comment made by Chuck Fischer since I ran into him at a recent varsity meet. He said that I’m so focused in the pool, he’s afraid to interrupt me by waving, saying hello, etc. I think there’s some truth to that observation—I am usually concentrating on a particular technique element, pace, or frantically factoring intervals (math sucks up a lot of my mental energy.) But I’m also blind-as-a-bat. Even with corrective goggles, I can barely see the clock, people on deck, if someone’s in the far side of the 50-meter lane I’m about to enter, and so forth. Therefore, I can’t greet you if I can’t see you, but I can see how this contributes to my stand-off-ish pool persona.
I don’t share a lane well: I don’t mind sharing a lane under a lot of situations, including at an actual practice, splitting a wide lane with anyone who sort of knows swim etiquette, or during recovery, free, or back workouts. It does irritate me, however, when I’m forced to circle with swimmers who are wildly pace-divergent from me and don’t know swim etiquette, or to share a narrow lane on IM or fly days, especially when there is other more-appropriate-for-your-rec-swim-pace lane-share availability. So yes, I’m grumpy when someone enters the lane under those circumstances, to the point of realizing that my being a little more polite could probably enhance the atmosphere. Yet that realization isn’t making me more lane-welcoming, in fact, I’m swinging further towards being more vocal—asking people to find a more pace-appropriate lane, suggest they’d be happier in a lane with someone swimming all free, not fly. So again, yes, at times I still come off as a crazy-swim-bitch. Another example from Super Bowl Sunday: While on the wall for a less-than-ten-second interval, a woman sitting on the deck edge with her feet dangling in the lane asked if she could share the lane. Already swimming to just one side of the lane, I said, “go ahead.” To which she said, “what?” I replied “yes.” She again responded with “what?” so I just pushed off on my interval. She gave me very wide berth for the rest of my workout…
Do I think I’m a swim-snob? Yes. Do others? Probably so, especially if you don’t know me at all (really, I’m super-nice once you get to know me!) and are basing your opinion of me on just one swim day. Will I continue to be a swim snob? Likely, as I usually have goals in mind that I want to meet each swim. Can I tone it down for the benefit of others? I promise to give it a go, but don’t count on me waving at you from across the pool when you first walk out onto deck. I still can’t see…
Next week: Book Review: The Do-Over: My Journey from the Depths of Addiction to World Champion Swimmer by Karlyn Pipes