Back to the Pool

An indoor pool with swimmers in the three visible lanes doing front crawl. We are looking from the pool deck down the length of the pool, and the part of the deck visible in the foreground is scattered with floating devices, such as kick boards.

Now that open water swimming season is pretty much over here in Canada (except for a few brave souls) many of us are transitioning back to pool swimming. However, unless you are swimming in a group setting or in a private lane you will notice quite a few changes to how things are done during this time of COVID.

First and foremost comes the need to book your pool time. Gone are the days of looking to see when public swim times were and then just showing up. Now you must plan out when you are going to swim and then you must go online and book your swim time. Depending on where you are swimming this can mean booking a certain lane at a certain time or simply booking a certain time slot and then seeing where you will swim once you get to the pool. The amount of allotted swim time varies from pool to pool, but can range anywhere from 45 – 90 minutes.

Once you arrive at the pool you can expect to do a COVID screen and then proceed in a very orderly fashion to where you will be getting into your lane. Most pools require that you arrive at the pool in your swim suit and be ready to go as they keep change rooms closed for hygienic and social distancing protocols.

At this point you have gone through the process of booking your pool time, getting to the pool, going through the screening process. Now what? Should you be lucky enough to have your own lane space, great! You can bring a workout and pretty much go through the workout uninterrupted. However, if you are in a situation where you show up and there is no real lane designation or swimmers are simply not following the set lane speeds what do you do?

Here are some tips for getting back to pool swimming in an unstructured environment.

  1. Don’t get angry. Things are going to be quite chaotic when you first get in. Go to the pool knowing it is going to be this way and that you will likely have swimmers of all different abilities trying to share the same lane (or double lane as it is in some pools). Everyone loves going to the pool with a plan and a workout. These often involve set pace times and intervals. If you go to a shared lane expecting to be able to follow these pace times right now you are just going to get very frustrated and angry which leads to tip #2.
  2. Be flexible. If you or your coach wanted you to go the pool with a set of fast 100’s and you realize that this is going to be impossible then simply make adjustments on the fly. Maybe your fast freestyle turns into fast 100’s kick so that you can still get in a workout, but not keep running into the feet of slower swimmers in front of you, or maybe you just save that workout for another time and work on drills and sculling instead. You really can control your frustration level by simply adjusting expectations and not being so regimented. Many people are in a hurry to get in the pool and get their lane space right when the time begins, but then they get out early and the lane opens up. Knowing this, it might be a good idea to do a nice long warm up and save your harder work for the end of the swim time.
  3. Be a leader. If it appears that you are in a lane with a number of swimmers who are around the same ability perhaps suggest doing a workout all together so that you can get some cohesiveness in the lane. Most experienced swimmers will likely be feeling the same frustrations and would be happy to jump into a set that will provide adequate rest for everyone.
  4. Be kind. Not just to the other swimmers in your lane, but to the lifeguards, administration staff and everyone else at the pool. The world we are in right now has everyone on edge and there are a lot of frayed nerves out there. For many people, going to the pool is their chance to get in their exercise for the day and the last thing they need is to be swam over. Yes, there will be people who are unkind and no matter how much you try and reason with them they will complain and want to argue with you. Don’t let these people ruin your day or your swim. Simply try and follow these 4 tips and you will be able to leave the pool feeling better than when you showed up.