Swimming in My Lane
2019 Updated (originally written but not produced in 2018)
It's been years since I've addressed the issue of getting along with your lane mates – and me. There's been so few problems it's not been necessary.
But the last few years has seen the addition of quite a few new faces and I think we'll see the lanes getting a little more crowded going forward. A refresher is in order.
The challenge with this conversation is that much of what is needed for a lane to run smoothly comes with experience and instinct. Of course, there's much that can be taught but there are certain “skills” that some folks simply seem unable to foster.
That doesn't mean we don't try though.
So first and foremost – you must try to be aware of what your lane mates are doing. If you learn only one thing, it's this. Your swimming should not affect, in a negative way, the other folks swimming in your lane.
You should always be asking yourself, “What do I bring to my lane?” Do you improve the swimming experience of your lane mates or do you diminish that experience?
Another point worth making is the things I'm going to discuss apply to swimming with Mercury Rising. Other clubs and coaches might have a different set of principles and rules.
I'm going to address this in list form – because I like lists.
1) Don't worry about what others are doing. This is first because it colours so many other items on the list.
As I said earlier – you should be aware of what others are doing but not getting excited about it. When you know where others are in the warm-up it's easier for you to behave in a way that won't upset the lane. For example if the other four members of the lane are all coming in, having finished their warm-up don't be a selfish prat and head out to do your final 100 because you arrived late. You force the others to make a decision of whether to wait for you or start without you. That's a lose/lose.
2) I don't really care what you do in the warm-up but start the main set together. That answers the above challenge. Some people might be surprised to hear me say that but it's true. I can't write a perfect warm up for everyone. You should be working on technique throughout the entire session but it's during the warm up that it's easiest to really focus on what you need to focus on. Everyone is working on different things. Work on what you need to as long as you're NOT interfering with others. If there's any confusion because people are all doing different things, one of the ways to mitigate that is to simply call a start time for the main set and everyone can ensure they're at the wall when that time comes. Let me repeat that – BE AT THE WALL WHEN IT'S TIME FOR THE MAIN SET TO BEGIN!!
I don't care if you arrive on time (unless I'm personally coaching you and I've asked you to arrive on time) and you shouldn't care if others do either. BUT having said that – when you get in the lane, do it without upsetting the rhythm – join the lane where they're at. Related – if you're going to leave early – let the others know. Use common sense. It's not cool to be going 2nd or 3rd in line, with someone leaving behind you and then you suddenly announce you have to go, leaving a gap in the line. Prior to you leaving go to the back so you can get out. This applies to folks who are going to sit out a repeat – which is fine, if you need to but don't bugger people up.
.3) Passing and so much more. This is a big one. If someone is trying to pass you – let them. You shouldn't have to slow down but move over and don't accelerate. If you can accelerate then you should have been swimming faster in the first place!
Don't swim up on peoples feet then decline to take the lead. If you catch someone – then you take the lead. No discussion there. If you go out too hard so that you just find yourself getting caught up a few repeats later then you're a muppet and you simply have to pay the price in humiliation – back you go. NEVER stop to let someone go by!!! It's passive aggressive and makes the passing swimmer feel badly – AND IT'S NOT NECESSARY! If you cut in as you come into the wall the passing person can come up beside you – you both push off and the faster swimmer carries on. When you're passing someone you do NOT touch their feet – let me repeat – you DO NOT touch their feet!!!! You brush their calf on the side you're passing, then the slower swimmer knows which way to move over – and they damn well better move over!!
Gear – you're feeling like a bag of ass and you're unable to maintain your position so you want to throw the fins on, well that's on you, and if someone else in the lane does that – it's not your business, unless they make it your business. That is to say, unless they put the fins on and are now suddenly up on your feet. Don't do that. If you find you're grabbing the toys with any kind of frequency then maybe it's time to rethink your lane placement.
4) Coaching from the water. Don't do that. No one wants you to do that and you're probably wrong anyway. There are exceptions to this. If you are currently on my payroll as a coach – that is Dan Smith, Kylie Acford or Andrew McCartney. OR you are an accomplished swim coach in real life – Avila Rhodes or Cindy Mabee. No one else comes to mind at the moment.
5) If you don't like the session or see a way to improve on it, hold that thought. Feel free to approach me after or send an email with your suggestion. Contrary to what you may think, I'm open to suggestions. I even like them – but when you beak off 37 seconds before the main set is about to start you're putting a negative cloud over the session. Even if the suggestion is a good one you've just undermined the entire session. Nothing good comes from it. Embrace the sessions and I promise your swimming and the swimming of those around you will improve.
6) The coach is the general. Don't second guess them. The fastest swimmer in each lane is the captain. They determine the leave times.
7) Try to avoid losing your shit. This may seem obvious but it happens more than you might imagine. It's a lesson I need to apply to myself. Ask yourself this “Will I feel the need to apologize in the near future for what I feel like doing/saying right at this moment?” Nothing kills a session so effectively as a sewer opening up suddenly and filling the pool. Don't be a sewer. More often than not it happens when we bring our garbage from outside the pool to inside.
8) Don't “complain” about your swimming to others. It's a downer – they don't really care because they're worried about their own swimming and you just come off as a whiner.
10) When you hit the wall after a hard effort – there's an excellent chance there's another swimmer who has worked equally hard and is coming up behind you fast. Move over! Never stand on the cross.
11) Use the clock. Leave 10 seconds (sometimes 5 seconds) behind the swimmer in front of you and make sure your lane mates can count on you doing that. Anyone who has followed a swimmer who doesn't do that knows how frustrating it can be.
Almost everything I'm talking about here is related to the original question – how does your behaviour affect those around you? You should be a positive influence in your lane. At worst be neutral.
Bring good stuff to the table and everyone feeds well!