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There are few things that enrage me more than poor swimming etiquette, and The Mom has long been forced to listen to me rant and rave about the idiots in the pool where I currently swim.

In case you don’t know what decent swimming etiquette is, let me explain:

If you would like to swim in the fast lane, first, ask yourself a series of questions:

1. Am I wearing an actual swim suit, or am I wearing a bathing costume? If it’s the latter, piss off into another lane.

2. Same goes for not wearing goggles or a swim cap. You are forgiven not wearing a swim cap if your head is shaved.

3. Are you planning on doing breast stroke? Piss off into another lane. I don’t care how fast you can go, it’s not going to be fast enough. The only exceptions are people who have competed in the Olympics.

4. Are you resting? Are you in the fast lane? You’d best be doing your resting on the sides of the lane so that other people can continue to swim without having to accidentally touch your gargantuan hairy back. True story.

5. You’re in the fast lane. You are a halfway decent swimmer. Half of the local swim team gets in your lane. Leave. Leave now.

6. If you’re in the fast lane, and I’m nearly touching your toes at the end, let me go first. This will save you the humiliation of me having to swim over you (not literally, metaphorically), and it will save me the energy. We will both be happier.

7. When someone takes off in front of you, allow ten seconds before you start swimming after them. If you go immediately after them, you are a fuckwit.

8. Are you doing backstroke? You better be able to swim in a straight line.

9. There is a person in the lane happily swimming away. In the lane next door, there are zero people. You go in the empty lane. I don’t care if it says slow lane, you go in there until someone else comes along and it becomes a problem.

Without fail, each time I come home from a swim, one if not more of these things has happened to me. I hasten to point out that I am not an Olympian, not even close. I am a good, solid consistent swimmer. I’ve been doing it my entire life. There are rules people follow. Well, people who are proper swimmers. Proper swimmers don’t sit at the end of the lane, smack dab in the middle, for ages, after having swum 25 metres. They don’t. That’s because they know they will be in the way when another swimmer comes to the end and wants to do a turn. Honestly, I don’t do flip turns anymore (they make me dizzy) but I’ve seriously considered it numerous times. And I’ve also considered using someone’s stomach to push off of.

And, here’s another thing. I’m small. Seriously. Tiny. And what I hate more than anything is when some middle-aged man in what the British so aptly call a ‘budgie smuggler’ saunters into the pool. There are eight lanes to choose from, and usually there will be one or two people in all of them. I will have one of the fast lanes to myself. I will be happy and not angry at humans. And then this man will come into my lane. And he will not be able to swim quickly. In fact, he will not be able to swim in a lane properly, instead he will swim up and down the middle, forcing me to have to duck underwater so as not to get hit in the face with his stupid hand. I will purposely start going as fast as I can when this man enters the lane because I’m thinking that he’s thinking, Ah, wee girl in there, great, I’ll show her what’s what. This NEVER HAPPENS, gentlemen.

Do you know what does happen? I swim over you. Each and every time.

This is very aggressive behaviour, I realise, but swimming is the time when I am meant to de-stress, and it’s no good if I get worked up because I’m forced to share a lane with people who obviously cannot keep up. Once, and this is one of my proudest moments, I start passing this one guy. Numerous times. I was really going for it. It paid off: he left my lane. And then I was able to swim in peace.

I frequently moan about this to The Mom, who, having swum with me every summer since I was little, is well versed in the rules. Though we don’t swim in lanes at home, even at early morning swim, she knows the drill. She accepts that we do not swim at the same pace, which is perfectly fine. As such, she does her best to stay out of my way, and in return I stay out of hers, and also try not to splash her. She doesn’t like getting her hair wet.

I was recently moaning about a particularly bad swimmer. This runty wee ginger was rolling around so much it was ridiculous. Breathed on the even numbers (which no one in their right mind does), and wouldn’t get out of my way. I was so incensed, I began fantasizing about doing what surfers do to non-locals or new surfers.

So, in a surfing line-up there is a hierarchy. You might not know what it is when you get in the water, but you know it exists and you know that if you don’t want to get in trouble and one day be welcomed into the group, that you must respect it. You watch, observe, and learn. And if you step out of line, the top guy gives you a thumping, and you learn. Honestly, I have come to this point many times. I just feel if I held somebody underwater for a few seconds, then explained the rules of swimming etiquette all would be well.

But, swimmers of Bristol, rest easy. I may imagine doing all of this but in my mind I also envisage The Mom being in no way pleased, and so I keep my temper under control.

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