We’ve had this exact same conversation before.
He stops me at the end of a lap, interrupts
my rhythm, smiles, explains what the black lines are for
on the bottom of the pool. “That’s the guide for laps,”
he says. The first time he told me this
I started to explain my side of things
but he repeated himself, once again pointing
at the bottom of the pool. I demurred to his preference.
But not today. Today I said, “Yes,
I know that, but when they have the lanes set up
so wide like this, there’s room for three across
and I prefer the middle so I don’t drift and bump
and scrape my hands on the lane markers.” I smiled.
He smiled. And said again what the black lines are for
and that since there were only two of us, I could
move over. “Yes, I could,” I said, “but we are
cooperating fine so far. We haven’t bumped yet.”
He literally harrumphed, “Pretty close,” he said.
“Well,” I said, “I only have a lap
or two to go.” And pushed off with a splash.
Never mind that usually there are three
in those wide lanes. And never mind the lane
to our left had one swimmer on one side. So he
could have gone away and left me alone.
We were following different sets of unwritten rules.
He couldn’t know that one of mine is don’t
even think of messing with my time in the pool.
Don’t throw me off. Don’t slow me down. Just don’t.
And then I began another poem about swimming–will work on this more at some point….
In the pool I’m graceful, strong, and sleek, and fast,
at least compared to how I am on land.
I’m pushing all my thoughts out of my head.
In the pool, I’m more a body than a mind.
It occurs to me what my husband always says when I talk about manspreading, that I’m as guilty of it as anyone. He’s pretty right–that I am pretty confident about claiming my space.
Also, this guy was being relatively polite in his tone, but it occurs to me he didn’t actually say anything like, “Would you mind moving over?” He really didn’t say he wanted me to move over until I said, “Yes, I know that’s what the lines are for. I like being in the middle.”
Do you suppose he’s written a blog about me????????
I have a lot of anxiety about lap swimming, oddly enough. In college, swimmers of the same relative speed shared lanes. In public pools, that’s not necessarily the case. I’ve swum up on people’s heels, and I’ve been passed, and I don’t like either of those things. I don’t like making other people uncomfortable. [Might be worth noting that I haven’t done laps in years, but from your post it seems like the etiquette–and men who are willing to stop you in the middle of your workout because you’re doing it wrong–hasn’t changed. I’m almost looking forward to figuring out how to fit swimming back into my life.]
At Symons, if it gets to more than three people in one of those wide lanes, we’re supposed to go in a big circle. I haven’t had a situation where that happened & I don’t think I’d stay in the pool if it did. Too hard to get in my groove if I’m worried about passing or being passed. But I love, love, love swimming, and I’ve been a member of that pool for 25 years, so I feel like it’s MY FUCKING POOL.