I swim. I have recounted elsewhere my adventures with the Summer Crowd that turns out on halcyon days to swim at my gym.
Well, happy days are here again. Once again, it is July. Once again, the fair weather swimmers are turning out.
We have lap lanes at the pool. However, the large open area which is usually full of splashing children and cooling-off-adults by lunchtime is generally used by serious lap swimmers in the early hours of the morning as an addition to the lap lanes. Despite a lack of floats separating the lanes in the space, it's pretty easy to figure out that there are four lanes, two lanes on each side of the two black lines.
I've been here early mornings enough to know that when all four lanes are full, I need to swim the (more crowded)lap lanes where everyone understands how to swim counterclockwise. The draw of the open area is that when you stake out a lane, you get the lane to yourself.
Most of the time.
Today I was an early arrival and saw that two lanes were open in the Open Area. I staked out one and started the warm-up laps. I was approximately half done with the morning lap routine when something dark and large plowed into sight.
Lo and behold! A large woman in a dark swimsuit doing a "backstroke." That word is in quotes for a reason. She's actually on her back, doing a frog kick and paddling like a turtle with her arms, totally clueless as to her location in the pool and swimming in both my lane and the empty lane next to me.
Ok, not a problem. I can cope by stopping and treading water until her wake passes (as she swims into the third lane over and gets mowed down by a guy doing his power crawl at Olympic speeds). I simply move a bit to the north in my lane to minimize the possibility of more collisions.
NOT good enough. She's decided that the "lane" is the entire space between the two black lines and that she's entitled to all of it. That is, in reality, two lanes that she is now straddling. I understood not navigating well on her back -- but in the alternate lap she did a breaststroke and could see where she was swimming. She planted herself squarely in the middle of the two lanes and proceeded to swim s l o w l y up the middle, effectively squeezing me out of my lane.
I haven't lived in Israel for three years for nothing. My friends in the Old Country have indicated that I'm, uh, "a bit too confrontational" to start with. Moi?!
I am not going to be pushed out of my lane, I decide. I swim straight up the lane while she's coming back on her upside-down-turtle stroke. She's still squarely in the middle of the lane. I swim in my lane, and end up brushing against her as I pass. I kick. Hard. I've always had a strong kick and I really thrashed to make sure I got as much water as possible into the air and all over her.
Return lap. She's now coming down the middle of both lanes doing the breast-stroke, determinedly. I do the crawl right past her, not giving an inch of my lane up.
She punches me!
Listen, I've had enough accidental close encounters in a pool during my life to understand that bumping-in-passing is an assumed risk.
This wasn't an accident. Had the lifeguard seen it, it would have looked as if she just happened to stroke into my ribs in passing. But in the water, there was a level of force beyond mere grazing.
No problem. No more Ms. Nice Guy.
I took back the center of my lane, instead of inching to the side to allow her more room. This meant that on my return lap, I swam right over her since she continued to plant herself in the middle of both lanes -- meaning she was half in my lane. I pull a pretty mean crawl, and it gives me quite a push in the water, especially when I'm, well, pissed off. Excuse my French.
So, I swim smack dab in the middle of my lane and end up doing the crawl over her left shoulder and she flounders on her back.
Ah, but my Opposition has clearly done pool wars before. On her next pass, she reaches out and scratches me with her nails down the ribs. And never breaks stride...I kick harder in passing, trying to get as much water as possible in her face.
But now I have her measure. And now I am determined that I'm not giving one centimeter of pool space.
Neither is she. She has now planted herself so, despite the empty lane next to me, she is three-quarters into my lane on her return. As I head up my lane, I see a kind of Pool-Chicken taking place: which of us will yield? Which of us will give way and either pull up or pull over?
Neither of us, it turns out. She swims right into me.
Enough! I stop. I tread water. I reach with both hands and push. HARD. I SHOVE her into her lane and as she yells, "What's the matter? What are you doing?" I yell back:
"Get out of my lane, you bitch!"
No, its not nice. But it was very effective. She moved into her lane and stayed there the rest of my workout.
Sometimes being "a little too confrontational" isn't all bad.
But the irony in all this is that I go to the pool for stress release. Hah!