Have you spotted one in your pool? A character – a swimming character. Someone who exhibits quirky behaviour that makes you laugh or cry. Like Save-Up Sally, who swims easy all practice until the end when she still has energy to pass everyone. Love them or hate them, but characters make the pool and life a wonderful place to be. Over the years we have been observing them – and here are our results. Which one are you?
We have given our characters names and genders for fun, but these characters apply to both sexes and any resemblance to people actually named like our characters is purely incidental [our lawyers told us to say this]. You know who you are. 😊
Save-up Sally is that swimmer that always starts the session at the back, tentatively letting the other swimmers go first. Sally won’t look you in the eyes and tries not be noticed. Until she is moving up in the lane throughout the course of the training.
It’s true, Sally starts slow. Or rather we should say, Sally starts on or below her aerobic threshold and stays there. She has a lot of energy saved up. She can maintain an average pace that works for her yet makes her look like she is swimming a lot quicker at the end of the session. Blow-up Bob can learn a lot from Save-up Sally.
Blow-up Bob on the other hand swims the first 100 as if it’s the Olympic trials and then has no more gas in the tank. Unlike Sally, Bob will be first in the water and swim in the lead position.
Bob has not learnt to pace his swim efforts and seems like his ego gets in the way every time. Bob will look you in the eyes and be the loud one in the pool until Sally asks to take over at the front. Bob gives the impression of a good and strong swimmer in the first ten minutes of a session but slowly wilts as the session gets longer.
Take-over Tommy is somewhat of a special case. He has been swimming for most of his life but hasn’t really given must time to technique or Pool Etiquette. He jumps in and starts swimming. Take-over Tommy prefers to swim on his own and doesn’t like swim sessions with others. He may be very aware of what’s going on around him but acts as if he doesn’t care.
He just wants to pass people and does it ruthlessly. You will know when Tommy is in your lap’s lane. He will literally swim over you as he passes and has little regard for how you feel about that.
Clueless Chuck is that guy who means well but is clueless. Chuck will push off the wall just as Tommy is turning, creating a cold war atmosphere in the pool. He forgets to put on his goggles because his mind is somewhere else. Chuck requires care. Chuck will ask coach repeatedly during a session what he needs to do and where he is in the set. Chuck has difficulty keeping count and frequently swims too little. Chuck will also push off too early, after swimming too little, and will get entangled with the faster swimmers. Clueless Chuck means well but rarely has a clue.
Steady Sue is the flip side of the coin to Take-over Tommy. Steady Sue will swim all day at the same pace. Normally, an experienced open water swimmer who will easily be able to navigate her way through other swimmers. She is friendly yet not chatty. She sees easily where she fits into a swimming session and slots herself in.
She knows how to swim with the clock and explains swims sets to others, like Chuck, who have lost the swimming plot. Steady Sue is a diesel engine. She can’t sprint off the line, but she will haul you in all the time.
Smooth Sandra gives off an aura of being a pro and may well have been one. She will arrive late to the session, sauntering in. Chat with the coach briefly before taking her spot at the head of the group or lane. She swims with ease born of learning it early on and so swims very smoothly. There is very little splashing or noise and you won’t notice her when she passes you.
She dominates the pool with her quiet yet fishlike character.
She has nothing to prove and knows it. She rarely gives advice. She will be seen rubbing her goggles while looking at the clock and then disappearing underwater in a beautiful streamline.
She is the envy of everyone in the pool.
Lazy Larry looks like Sandra. He will saunter into the pool and copy some of Sandra’s smooth behaviour. But he is nothing like Sandra. Larry is very chatty and will stand talking to coach for many minutes until coach gets him in the water with a sarcastic comment about why he came to the pool.
Larry makes a big show of donning his goggles and stretching and snorting and giving loud advice.
Larry will swim 25 at a time before stopping to check who is looking. He will try and chat with everyone in his lane, distracting and disrupting any lesson.
When coach asks why he is not swimming, a myriad of excuses will come from Lazy Larry that will either enrage coach or have him rolling around on deck.
No, Magic Mike does not swim naked. He is the ultimate swimming character. He is courteous of others, knows his place in the water yet speaks to and encourages all the swimmers in his lane. He has very good pool etiquette and you will know when he is on your heals. He passes with ease and helps those out who have lost count or their way in the set. He is adaptable to the conditions around him and can swim just as easily with triathletes as with Sandra's. He creates a little magic in the pool and is the envy of all the others.
That’s it folks! Remember, we bring ourselves to the pool. That unique flavour that makes life and interactions with people so meaningful. Let’s cherish and enjoy the characters on deck and in the pool, learn from them and maybe we might all start to look a little magic.
Written by Michael Stolt