Taking up swimming in New Zealand was my antidote to lack of exercise in my last months in the UK. You’d think that it was a harmless enough pastime.
You’ve probably heard of road rage or air rage but now there seems to be a new phenomenon, lane rage. That’s swimming lane rage – a particular kind of aggressive behaviour that develops in my local pool from time to time.
The lane swimming contingent can be quite large and with such mixed abilities lanes are usually divided up for slow, medium and fast swimmers. I tend to hang around in the medium swim lane as I have to strike up a steady rhythm of swimming to have any hope of completing my quota of 70 lengths.
Sometimes, when you least expect it you can be overtaken by people travelling at a faster speed. I have no problem in principle with those that are moving faster but I do object that this incredible turn of speed is often because people are using flippers to swim. To see people swoop past at a fast pace did initially create a demoralising sense of failure but I now realise that it’s only a ploy for swim cheats to try and to psych you out of the lane.
Not to be outdone by the flipper brigade, there is also the tidal wave gang that push of the end of the pool with such ferocity and front crawl splashing furiously to create a disturbance and try and drown you in their mini tsunami.
In contrast there are the slow coaches who take forever to get from one end of the pool to the other. Or indeed the light weights who only manage one length before congregating at the end of the lane to catch their breath and have a good chin wag blocking the path of the long distance swimmer as they turn for the next length.
So swim sessions are not all plain sailing – you need your wits about you to stop yourself from drowning. Although as a rule there is plenty of lane discipline there are times when tempers flair as incompatibility of swimming style and pace becomes apparent.
I for one like the quiet life and now am experienced enough to read the lane rage signs. If there are enough lanes open you can generally switch across lanes to avoid the swim boy racers or the retired gents who have a tendency to raise the blood pressure. So far there’s been no blood spilled but there have been occasions where the lifeguards have had to intervene in altercations when it gets messy between fellow swimmers.
It’s usually at this point that I head towards the exits stairs and head for the changing rooms to escape the carnage. If anyone tells you that swimming is relaxing, they clearly haven’t swum New Zealand style!