For about two months now, I have been swimming in the pool at the Y. I mostly go in the morning before work, and it's funny--by which I mean a little creepy--how you get to know the other regulars. There's the really nice woman who always asks if it's okay if she joins your lane. There's the guy who looks like a guy from college, to the point that I do a double-take-- hey, we're talking about 6:15 on a Tuesday; I'm impressed my hallucinations are limited to false doppelganger sightings. And there's the lady who is always in one of the slow lanes, just chillin and doing the sidestroke, sometimes with a kick board. She's great.
[By the way, if you want to minimize your chances of being in a lane that resembles the aquatic equivalent of the Beltway at rush hour, pick the slow lane. Seriously, this works. A few people use the slow lane because they are honest with themselves, but most people are way too proud to self-select whether they should be there or not. But not you. You are ruled by logic, not some misguided sense of self worth derived from holding your own in the 'medium' lane.]
But not everyone at the pool is great. And I say this not to be a bad person but, rather, as one who understands that my life can serve as a warning to others. Therefore, I give to you The Five People You Should Avoid at the Pool.
1. THE PERSON WITH FLIPPERS
Some people who use flippers are fairly skilled in their use-- you know, they keep their kick mostly under water. As a result, they create a constant wake, which kind of sucks. But not as much as people who don't know how to use flippers. These people create splashing reminiscent of the more violent scenes in "Jaws." Overall, they are not so conducive to your ability to breathe.
2. PEOPLE USING THE BUDDY SYSTEM
Red. Flag. If someone needs a friend, it means he or she is either
a. not that interested in swimming and thus planning to stand awkwardly in the shallow end chatting
b. worried about drowning. And possibly being lost at sea. In the pool.
3. THE TRIATHLETE
I know several triathletes, and they are all delightful people, so don't get me wrong. All I'm saying is that I'd rather not share a lane with someone who is checking their split times and thus refuses to start their next lap until the second hand is on the 60 (you might think they're staring at you, but actually they're staring over your shoulder at the giant clock on the wall). Also, the triathletes sometimes have conferences at the shallow end, which is a little awkward. Yeah, the awesome swimmers are having a meeting. No, you're not invited.
4. THE WIRY OLD GUY
Again, please do not misunderstand. But there are a few wiry old guys who have, over time, developed interesting adaptations of the traditional swimming strokes. They tend to resemble the motions of a drowning interpretive dancer. And the rest of the wiry old guys have old man strength, and nothing ruins my day like getting lapped by a 70-year-old.
5. THE PERSON WEARING A FLOATY BELT
I think this speaks for itself. Especially in combination with flippers.