Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Marit's Guide to Swimmer Derby!

Swimmer Derby: Marit’s guide to surviving a crowded swim lane!

Long Course Meter swimming can be a fun challenge! For most athletes, 50 meters may seem daunting at best. But throw in limited lanes and 8 uncoordinated swimmers per lane, and you’ve got a recipe for swimming disaster! The following is a step-by-step approach to crowded Long Course Meter swimming success! Good luck, swim hard, and have fun!

10 Steps to Swimmer Derby Success!

1) Arrive early and stake out your lane. As space is limited – in my case, 2.25 lanes per 14 people (at times less, but mostly more!) – it is important to claim your turf. Best if the lifeguard is on your side and sympathetic to your plight. He or she may be able to assign “fast” or “slow” lanes. But the Japanese family of 5 that speaks no English and has no idea about swimming etiquette may put a damper on your swim plans. No worries! As long as you have your spot established five minutes before the pool “officially” opens, you will be set for success. 10 minutes will surely guarantee success!

2) Once the goggles are on, it is swim time! You mean business. And by chatting to Mr. Speedo or Ms. Noodle Breast-Stroker, you are showing everyone in your vicinity that you are not serious. Not the example that you want to set when you have serious swim sets to accomplish, or a coach who checks your swim set times. Start swimming at the first opportunity!

3) Begin your sets. Spend as little time on the wall as possible. Time on the wall = time to chat with your casual neighbor. And when you have 7 other people in your lane who don’t know what they’re doing, and don’t understand the concept of circle swimming this can cause a problem. If possible, swim with like-minded athletes. If not, stick to your schedule and your rest intervals. You will be thankful come swim test time!

4) When your coach instructs you to “swim like at the start of a half IM, go out HARD for the first 500 and then hang on until the 1,000” it is great practice to do exactly that. Mr. Red Shorts getting in your way? Mow him over. The Japanese family hanging out at the end of the lane and don’t move in time for your flip turn? Make sure you hit the turn and wall with a little extra gusto and make a big splash. Miss I-swim-with-a-string-bikini-and-zig-zag-when-I-back-stroke in heading straight towards you? Put your head down, kick extra hard, and prepare for impact. She’ll get the idea. If not on the first hit, then at least the second. (Who wears a string bikini lap swimming anyway?)

5) When the lifeguard gives you the thumbs up during your designated rest interval, rest assured that they are having as much fun watching you swim as you are swimming. Continue to practice as though you are open water swimming around slower swimmers.

6) Accept the fact that you will run into other swimmers. Especially as many have no concept of circle swimming or slow vs fast lane assignment. That’s okay: look at this as an opportunity to practice for mass race starts and swimming with other people. Prepare for impact: make yourself as firm as possible, muscles flexed, legs kicking hard, and fingers grasping wide (but make sure you keep your strokes long and swim relaxed!). If your lane mates don’t understand that YOU (at least) are serious about your swim, one or two crashes will make them realize this fact. And then they’ll be the ones getting out of your way.

7) When stopping for water or during your rest interval, make sure to 1) smile and 2) that everyone knows that you can’t help but run into them. Explain your predicament between breaths “My coach is making me swim fast” or “I’m training for a triathlon!” and people may give you a wide berth.

8) If step #7 doesn’t work, a well timed comment about peeing in the pool will do the trick. No one wants to share a lane with a self-professed pool peer. We all do it, so accept the fact. The key is to work it to your advantage. The Japanese family may not understand “circle swimming” or “lane etiquette”, but they will get out of your lane if they see suspiciously colored water near your person.

9) Hold your ground. Swimmers – especially those of the not-so-serious-swimming-kind – will try to creep into your territory. A well placed flip turn with extra splash, an aggressive pull with your arms, or my personal faborite, the kick-as-though-you-have-someone-creeping-up-behind-you should do the trick. If your lane “buddies” haven’t learned their lesson by now, an extra kick or splash won’t hurt them any more. Bonus points if you can aim your splash during your flip turns.

10) You know you’ve had a successful session if the lifeguard comes up to you afterwards and asks for pointers. Kindly refer him or her to this list.

For the most part, swimmers are of the agreeable, lane sharing, circle swimming, proper placement in slow lane versus fast lane sort. But for those who just don’t quite get the message, or for times where swimming space is limited and most “swimnmers” are of the non-English speaking, breast-stroking-all-the-way, noodle-pulling, and aerobics-in-the-shallow-end sort, this list will help.

Make sure that after your monster swim session, you take time to joke around with your lane mates. Show them that you ARE human; but your coach wants you to swim at a specific pace on a specific time on a specific rest interval. Apologize for swimming over anyone. It may help if you claim that you “forgot” your contacts or your goggles are "foggy", and that you didn’t see Mr. Neon-Yellow-Shorts in your way.

And remember that you are swimming for FUN. But it doesn’t hurt YOU to work your hardest or go fast in the process. Soon enough – after the first few days of limited lanes during Long Course Meter swimming – your fellow morning swim friends will understand your antics. And they’ll avoid your lane all together.

So you won’t have the same opportunity to practice race simulations as you did at the beginning of the season. Then again, the non-English speaking family or pool newbie will provide the perfect victim, er practice partner.

Good luck!


Bob Mitera said...

Perfect! Loved it! 5 Stars!

I have been known to "break into" a 400 Fly - helps scare people out of the water when you can reach across the lane.

Steve Stenzel said...

That sounds NUTS!!! But you sure have a good attitude about it!!

Ashley said...

great suggestions! Marit, somehow you can get away with all this... and smile... and people think you're the SWEETEST person alive (which you are). Keep on swimmin' them over. OR come join me at the lake!

Kevin McN said...

Brings back Cherry Point LifeGuarding memories. It was never that crowded. Seems like you picked up on Mike Pierce's flip turn with the extra splash! Keep up the great training!

Trigirlpink said...

paddles... you forgot paddles. BIG BLACK SCARY TYR paddles. Works like a charm.

TriGirl Kate O said...

Way to show them who's the boss! I say next time inadvertently swipe ms. string bikini so her top falls off.

Eileen Swanson said...

You are too funny! I am so looking forward to our chat on Saturday ;-) Have a great Friday!


Alili said...

Yikes! Remind me to only use the kiddie pool if I need to swim with you. You would hurt me;)

Kellye Mills said...

I LOVE it!! Anytime I swim in my neighborhood pool... I have to turn into a little bit of a B because of the people that just don't get it! The pee in the pool thing made me laugh out loud!! I want to chat with you about plans for the rest of the season! I'll email you within the next few days! :)

rr said...

Oh boy, your pool is insane! You need to hit the ocean instead, girl. One of these days I'll post a pic of my pool for you.. it's always empty.

Keep on it - it really seems like you're recovery is moving along fast now. I am so happy for you!