View Full Version : You are not alone in the pool, be prepared.

Michael Heather
December 23rd, 2017, 06:43 PM
I attended a SCM championship meet last week and was reminded about one of the favorite complaints of
mine, warmups. Not the fact that they are still needed in this age of instant gratification, instant results and
digital training, but that there are so many people who just cannot understand how to warm up in crowded
lanes, or worse, the fact that the coaches seem not to have told anyone that they need to be aware of others in
warmup lanes. Following is a list of my favorite activities that engender lane rage.

Chat time! OK, you have actually gotten completely wet after sitting or standing on the edge of the pool
primping or praying for 15 minutes. You have successfully negotiated 150 meters of your warmup and it is
time for your teammates to congratulate your efforts. Not just one, but 3 or 4 in several lanes. But the one or
two in your lane need space, so you graciously move to the center of the wall where the lane target is and
plant yourself there to continue holding court or whining about having to swim an entire 25 butterfly at the
beginning of your 100 IM. The center of the lane is an obvious choice for you to languish because heck,
nobody else was there. Guess what? I was at the flags, swimming in to make a turn for a timed 50 meter
swim when you ensconced yourself right where I need space to turn. Solution? Do your talking after you get
out of the pool. Do your resting while hanging on one of the lane lines. Keep the center clear for those
swimmers who actually need to make turns. It is not hard to do, and we will be forever grateful that we are
not forced to do a flip turn that results in a broken collarbone for you or bruised heel for me.

Fake me out! If you are doing a regulated warmup with a set amount of distance covered or a particular
number of turns, Please remember that old saying, “whatever you do in practice, you will do in the race.”
Same goes for warmup. Do you need to lift up your head to see someone standing on deck before taking the
plunge to make your flip turn? Probably not. But plenty of people do exactly this: Swim steadily to the flags,
slow down perceptibly, then just as you are floating to a stop, pop your head out of the water to look at...who
knows what? Then abruptly throw it back into the water and perform a magnificently slow, uncoordinated
tumble turn because you have lost all of your momentum getting to the wall. An alternative is not to tumble
at all, but do an open turn, after appearing to stop entirely at the wall. Why would this bother anyone? Oh,
probably because there are about 15 people in the lane and one or more of them is trying to get into the
peloton while you make up your mind how, or even if to turn. They are watching you and are mystified,
paralyzed on the wall trying to read the tiniest bit of body language that you might emanate in letting them
know what you are going to do next. But no! You are the inscrutable one, forever keeping everyone in
suspense. Solution? Swim into the wall and take decisive action, either turning without slowing down,
looking or otherwise doing something you do not want to do in the race, or stopping by reaching out your
hand and floating or kicking into the wall near the lane line. You only touch the center of the wall in a race.

Slow Motion Showboat. In Masters swimming, it is a given that there are various speeds of swimmer. Some
of the slow swimmers either do not know they are slow, or are reveling in their deliberate speed. And take the
middle of the lane to do it. You always know they are going to turn, they never seem to stop. A turn for a
slow swimmer is a dramatic effort unparalleled in theater. They grab the wall with both hands, even if
swimming freestyle, then gasp a huge lungful of air as if it is their last, eyes bulging out with a cross of
asphyxiation and determination, then turn to look at the other end of the pool as if gauging the effort it will
take to push the entire length underwater. Then they drop under the water level and push off. Well, “push” is
something of an overstatement. But they do eventually leave the wall, swimming in the finest 1950s era frog
kick breaststroke or double arm backstroke. Any stroke that takes the absolutely largest area possible. I have
witnessed trudgeon kick on the side, I kid you not. Solution? Coaches, you know who they are, please tell
them to swim circles like everyone else in the lane. Be aware of others n the lane and make room for people
who desire to pass them. Remind them also that there are darn few swimmers who have never been passed in
workout or warmup.

Oblivious! There is always the one swimmer who seems to feel they are in the pool alone. Even if there are 10 others trying to do warmups of various speed and intensity, this one will find a way to be in the way, with no other
reason than that they just wanted to do something. Or not. Some change directions in the middle of the lane,
but neglect to even look if anyone else is in the space they intend to occupy. Some just stop halfway down the
lane. Why? Good question. You, kind readers, will be able to fill the awesome variety of obliviousness this
swimmer generates. And we will all wonder - why? Because she/he is the coaches’ pet, that is why. It may
not be true, but someone has that very idea of themselves and will do anything at any time - just because they
can. Solution? Again, the coach has to be proactive and let this particular swimmer know that they are not
alone in the pool, nor should they act like it.