Despite the Saturdayness of the day, the morning after Space Prom, I hit the swimming pool. Saturdays are notoriously splashy days at the YMCA pool – half of the lanes are combined into one big pen for toddler lessons, and there’s a group of baby-meet-chlorine classes as well. Which admittedly, is adorable. There’s singing. And dad’s holding babies and cooing. But it’s also loud. And tends to involve a constant worry on my end that someone is going to drown.
All that aside, my feet hurt from busting a groove in ultra-high heels. An acquaintance I ran into at Space Prom sent me a Facebook message noting every time he saw me across a big room, I was dancing. And there was definitely that one moment when I saw a volunteer shaking his thing to a Backstreet Boys number and I couldn’t resist pantomiming along with him, stranger or not (and his age probably being under 19 or not). A pool morning would do me well.
So because of all the lessons, the pool lanes were condensed to one walking lane, one slow, one medium, and one fast. When I arrived, two people were in the fast lane. I assessed their speed and knew I was faster than them. Circle swimming would be irritating. Two people were in the medium lane. Same issue. One person was in the slow lane. My best bet was to hop in and split the lane with her. Done and done.
She got out a few minutes later and a guy whose feet looked like they were molded after Michael Phelps got in. This guy powered by me like he was a tractor and I was pushing a lawn mower. After a long while of swimming in this split lane fashion, I stopped to get a pull buoy between my quads, and saw a woman hop into our lane at the other side of the pool and just start swimming without talking to us (so dangerous! Telling swimmers you’re coming in and planning to circle swim when they’ve been splitting the lane is vital). The Phelps-footer was headed toward me, so I stopped him and suggested we start circle swimming. He nodded and went back to his workout.
The woman swam a few feet and stopped. She swam a few feet and stopped. Repeat. Which sort of spelled disaster for circle swimming.
Now here’s where I want advice as to what I could have done differently, as I feel like what followed wasn’t the most positive interaction:
She got to where I was standing and I smiled a greeting, then asked her if that was about her normal pace. She said it was. I told her she might be more comfortable in one of the other lanes, as we were swimming continuously and it might be a bit dangerous for her. She said the lifeguard had told her to get into our lane. I looked at her strangely, and she said the other lanes were marked medium and fast, and she wanted to go slow. (I should note she didn’t speak English well and I didn’t speak her language at all, so there was definitely a communication gap.) I wasn’t sure at that point if I should try to explain how we all came to be mixed up in our speeds, and I decided to just go with it. So I told her to be careful and she said we should watch out for her and that she shouldn’t have to watch out for us. Fair enough, and I told her we would. And started swimming again.
I worry this whole conversation came off as not wanting her in my lane (not true) or being an unfriendly swimmer. When really, I just wanted everyone to swim in a way that was comfortable.
When is it our place to educate/inform others, and when is it our place to just let swimming fish paddle?