How Should you Deal with Rude Behaviour at the Pool?

rude behaviour at the pool

How do you deal with rude behaviour at the pool?

I should start by saying I don’t mean rude as in, you know, saucy behaviour. Rather I mean people just ignoring the basic rules of good swimming etiquette, and acting as though nobody else in the world exists.

I went for my first swim since lockdown yesterday. I was a bit nervous on account of the whole pandemic thing.

How are Pools Different since Covid-19?

Our local pool has made a bunch of changes to make the swimming experience safer. Things like:

  • Guests should arrive in swimwear to minimise time spent in the changing room
  • You need to book your swim online in advance, and there are only 14 spaces available per hour
  • The lanes in the pool have been made a little wider to allow for social distancing
  • You should dress and go home to shower, again to minimise time spent in changing rooms

With this knowledge, I was feeling okay about going for a swim. When I arrived i noticed half the pool was for general swimming and there were three swimming lanes for laps.

Clockwise Swimming in Laps

There were slow, medium and fast lanes, with signs at the end of each lane showing the direction you should swim. Most swimming pools do clockwise swimming in lanes, so you swim up one side of the lane and down the other.

When I arrived there were two guys swimming in the slow lane, both swimming up and down in a straight line and sharing the lane between them. That’s common when two people are in a lane, but obviously doesn’t work if there are three since the third person (me) is going to end up swimming right into your face.

I got into the pool when both guys had already turned and were swimming away from me. As directed by the sign, I started swimming up the left side of the pool. The guy in front of me reached the end of the pool, turned – and started swimming right towards me. I’m a pretty laid back person so I just swerved around him on my first lap.

On my second lap, he did exactly the same thing. This time, I had to stop swimming, stand up, and move out of his way.

On the third lap, I dodged him, but as he passed, I said loudly, “You should be swimming up one side and down the other!”

He ignored me. But two women swimming in the next lap stopped and said, “Good for you girl, call them out!” 

Rude Behaviour at the Pool

On the fourth lap, I waited at the bottom of the pool on the left side, figuring maybe he didn’t hear me. Also maybe he usually wore glasses and had missed the massive signs at each end of the pool. I thought I’d politely ask him to switch to clockwise swimming.

Nope. He swam at full speed right into my face and leaned over my body, his face 2 inches from mine, so he could make a point of touching the wall behind me.

I may have loudly said, “MEN!!! HOW RUDE!!!” but he totally ignored me.

And so then I did what my teenager would almost certainly have called a “Karen” move, and I asked the lifeguard to ask him to stop being such an ass, and make space for other swimmers.

The lifeguard spoke with both guys. My swimming nemesis made a very big point of looking at me, rolling his eyes and moving to the FAST lane.

Please Just Make Space

I am only one person so I can’t claim to have universal knowledge on this, but in my experience men are far more likely to display this sort of behaviour at a swimming pool.

I have lost count of the number of times men have kicked me while overtaking me, or almost drowned me as they do a spectacularly splashy butterfly stroke. And the refusal to “give up” the line they’re swimming even if it means swimming right into your face is one of my favourite moves.

As an aside, please don’t EVER swim butterfly stroke in a busy pool, it’s just rude.

main pool beaches ocho rios

What is Good Swimming Etiquette?

Having said this, it occurred to me today that I’ve never explained to my teen what the rules of good behaviour are when swimming.

Possibly because many of them are just decent manners (don’t kick people in the face or splash them). But nevertheless, these are what I think are the most important rules if you don’t want to be accused of rude behaviour while swimming. Would you add any to the list?

  • When you get into the pool, sit on the edge if someone is swimming laps already, so they have a chance to see/avoid you.
  • Don’t dowse yourself with perfume before you get into the pool, the scent carries more than you’d think.
  • Don’t swim side by side with friends so you can have a chat – it blocks off the pool for people behind you.
  • If you stop at the end of a lane, squish yourself into the corner, so other people swimming laps can still push off the edge.
  • If you’re the slowest swimmer in a lane, at the end of a lap, let the faster swimmer overtake you. If you’re the fastest swimmer in a lane, don’t “tailgate” other swimmers. Either be patient and wait for a time to overtake or move to a faster lane.
  • Doing butterfly stroke is considered rude behaviour at the pool. Don’t do a flip turn in a busy pool, unless you’re okay with accidentally kicking someone in the face.
  • Don’t push off from the end of a lane while someone is approaching the end of the lane, or has just pushed off. Give everyone a bit of space.

Have you ever experienced rude behaviour at the pool?

1 thought on “How Should you Deal with Rude Behaviour at the Pool?”

  1. People like that drive me insane. Our lanes alternate direction circuit depending on the lane. The worst are the socialising people, especially in the outdoor pool who came for a chat and suntan and congregate at the end Or people who swim down the pool. I tell people off. I told one group of 3 women off – one was swimming backwards ahead of the other 2, one could hardly swim. Its a 50m pool! I told them its lane swimming not a chat chat session, they were blocking if for other people and if they weren’t strong enough swimmers they shouldn’t be in the medium lane. In fact I have an old post about lane swimming etiquette which used to get a bit of traffic. Obviously more people rant about lane swimming than just us!

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