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No bombing, no heavy petting… stay in lane

July 20, 2014

It’s called ‘swim for fitness’. Not ‘swim for your weekly catch up on the soaps, and who Julie at no.5 is sleeping with’.

I’m at my local swimming pool, trying to channel my energy into swimming strokes as opposed to the uncharitable thoughts I’m having about the two gossiping women swimming two abreast in front of me, but I fear from the looks they’re giving me that my ‘swim rage’ is showing on my face.

Here at Ely Paradise Poo (as it will always be known to me, ever since those three glorious weeks in the summer of 1989 when the ‘l’ fell off the wall and they didn’t have a long enough ladder to re-attach it) lane etiquette is being openly abused, and I’m not happy. There is a couple in the deep end, smooching, who are giving the term ‘breast stroke’ a whole new meaning, and rendering the entire stepladder area a no-go area for anyone who swims with their mouth open.

There is a man practising his kicking technique – whipping up the entire pool into a froth of fake tan and human hair – whilst veering erratically across the pool attached to a piece of polystyrene.

There is always one woman doing the backstroke. Backstroke should be banned until humans have evolved sufficiently to have eyes, or at least some form of electronic gadget (google goggles?) strapped to the back of their heads.

And there are always – always! – two old dears who spend 45 minutes floating like lilos across the width of the pool, covering in that time perhaps 50 metres of ground and the entire plot of last week’s Downton.

Swimming is a highly antisocial sport, which is why I like it. If you’re not so out of breath that you can have a chat with your pal as you meander your way up the length of the pool, you’re not doing it right. Quit your yacking and get out of my lane!

And then there’s the swimwear. Oh dear god, the swimwear. Speedo should be ashamed of itself for the way it makes men look. The men too should be ashamed for believing a piece of material too small to blow your nose with effectively is suitable attire in which to venture out into the public domain. And then to get it wet! Less budgie smugglers; more tadpole stranglers.

It’s not like this is a professional Olympic sized training pool where such things matter. Given the lackadaisical approach the lifeguards appear to have towards anything regarding safety, hygiene, or even sense (one is skidding in the puddles down the side of the kiddy pool), I think the dress code is fairly lax. It’s not like in France, where in order to swim in a municipal pool, it is mandatory to wear a Speedo, as my husband found to his cost. Even when he pointed out that his trunks were in fact made by Speedo, that didn’t change the manager’s mind, who was most surprised when Ben refused his kind offer to lend him a pair of his own wincingly small piece of lycra, as if this particular item of clothing wasn’t quite commonly shared amongst men who had only just met.

I shouldn’t complain I suppose. The pool is cheap, right on my doorstep, and in a moment I’ll be treated to an involuntary and complementary sauna when I attempt to get dressed in the communal changing rooms that regularly exceed temperatures deemed safe for humanity, through a mixture of hairdryers, straighteners, and the curious sticky heat that small children exude when over-excited and covered in chlorine. It’s quite an experience.

On my way out to the car park I spy the two chattering ladies, still at it (seriously, how do they still have things to say to each other?). They’re making arrangements for the same time next week, and as I make a mental note never to swim again on a Tuesday, what they say next stops me in my tracks.

“Yeah, better make the most of it while it lasts. It’s summer holidays in a couple of weeks and you just can’t do anything in the pool with all them kids around.”

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