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  • Writer's pictureEmmelia Potts

Types of people you meet at the pool

Updated: Dec 12, 2023

people swimming

The swimming pool is the perfect place to people-watch. Over the months I have been both intrigued and irritated with the variety of people at my local pool. However, there appears to be a pattern in the types of behaviour displayed and almost all people can be filtered into one of the below types of swimmer. How many can you find while training for a triathlon? If you can find them all you are probably spending just the right amount of time in the pool for training...aka too much.

1- The Deceptive Old Lady

She creaks up to the ladders at the side of the pool and slowly lowers herself in, shivering, gasping for breath and looking as though she may collapse at any minute. Slowly adjusting a floral swim hat on her head and pegging her nose, she is ready. However, she ducks under the lane division into the medium-speed lane. The regulars look shocked and all kick off from the side to get in front of her. Setting off she is a different creature from the fragile one that entered the pool. She speeds off, water lapping around her body at breakneck speeds, catching the regulars up. On crawling out of the pool she returns to her frail self.

2 - The Deceptive Larger Swimmer

Similar to the older swimmer, but this person shocks all with their speed-to-weight ratio. The whippet-like regulars are in full flow up and down the medium lane as the larger man lowers himself into the pool. Many look shocked that he has entered a lane other than the slow one. However, he glides effortlessly through the water, down the centre of the lane overtaking the whippets. They try to speed up to regain self-respect but fall short of the mark, they have been well and truly out-swum. This person also has deceptive stamina and never stops. The whippets look on in shock, awe and amazement.

3-Michael Phelps Wanna Be

There is always one man that has been swimming for years. Kitted out in full Speedo gear, he talks to fellow pool users about his last race and how he was robbed, he now spends hours a day in the pool to improve his times. He never smiles, swimming is not a hobby it is life. Once he is in the pool he does not bother with mere warm-ups, he launches straight into a pacey, splashy and fairly frantic butterfly as if he were in the Olympic finals. It is so frantic people stop and move out of his way as tidal waves of water materialise from his arms. After 20 very fast, very scary lengths he hops out, drinks his protein shake at the side of the pool and does his stretches. I do not know whether to be impressed, amused or scared.

4 - The Wrong Laners
  • The slow poke. A person that should be in the slow lane but out of some delusion of grandeur has decided to go into the medium lane. They bob mid-lane, moving at a glacial pace. However, no one has the heart to tell them to shift off back into the slow lane.

  • The speed freak. A person that should really be in the fast lane but stays in the medium lane. They have extreme big fish little pond syndrome and get a kick-off overtaking people.

5 - The Chatter Boxes

Usually, two women who bob along in the slow lane head above water to allow ample chatting time. They talk about the grandchildren, society, some women called Mary and general gossip. On completing 25m they sprawl out at end of the pool and have a 5-minute break to catch their breath and to divulge the details of the gossip broached on that length. This break is concluded with "Oh I just do not know" and off they go for the next length where a new topic is broached. This is repeated for about 15 lengths.

6 - All Gear No Idea

This person enters the pool looking the business. They have Speedo everything, and all matching, cap, goggles, nose peg, swimsuit/trunks, flip flops. On first look, they appear to be another Michael Phelps wanna-be. However, this person lowers into the slow lane and stays there. They stand at the end of the pool for a while looking for a gap between the chatterboxes and the wrong laners. They kick off, a mass of arms and legs, out of sync with panic. They struggle onto the end of the 25m and regain composure before another painful length commences. After 5 lengths they settle down a bit and being to find a rhythm. "Nice to see you practising Tom!!" Yells an instructor across the pool. It then becomes apparent that they are very well kitted out beginners.

7 - The Huffer

Usually a wrong-lane speed freak with an attitude. They catch up with people mid-lane from which they proceed to slow down, tread water for a bit and huff. On having a break at the top of the pool they glare at people, shake their heads and huff as loud as possible to make all people feel very uncomfortable.

8 - The Wonky Backstroker

This person can not stay in a straight line while on their back, and proceeds to drift across the lane, crashing into unsuspecting front crawlers.

9 - The Hair Monster

People who leave the pool looking like a Golden Retriever that has materialised from a pond, depositing straggly hairs in the pool which you will later pick from your face or mouth.

10 - The Mermaid/merrman

A person that turns up to the pool in nothing but a swimsuit. No goggles, hair uncovered and sometimes not even tied up. They look to be lost at first having walked past the lagoon/casual pool. However, they turn out to be an effortlessly fantastic swimmer that does not need all the gadgets. The chlorine doesn't burn their eyes, their hair doesn't slow them down. They are natural, they are decendants of King Tridant himself.

11 - Inspector Gadget

They turn up with a bag at the poolside. Within this bag is an array of gadgets. Various floats, hand paddles, flippers, all sorts. Every few lengths they take out a new gadget and do their set with it before trading it in for a new one.

12 - The Gymnast

Tumble turns, diving in at the deep end in a number of ways and doing some fairly elaborate stretches before and after their swim. They are fascinating to watch and I sit in awe at how seamless their tumble turns are.

13 - The Flailer

This person is not necessarily a bad swimmer, they just make a lot of mess and noise when swimming. They kick above the water to the point they cause tsunamis and splash their arms down with such force that everyone in a 3 meters radius is blinded by the splash.

14 - The Deep Sea Diver

This delight is a humorous one. They love swimming underwater and set off each length with trying to swim as far as possible underwater. Not an issue. The issue lies with when they raise back to the surface. More often than not they do not look at who they have undertaken whilst below the surface and pop up between people's crotches, in their faces or wind them in the stomach.

15 - The Swarm

When the school have lessons in the lanes next to the fast lane. The swam of children descends. It is impossible to get to the lockers, the showers, go to the toilet and the noise is deafening.

16 - The Lone Bobber

A person who looks to have taken swimming on as a way to meet people and bobs around at the bottom of the pool waiting for someone to stop. When someone stops they immediately start speaking to them. If you are doing "serious" swimming avoid a lone bobber at all costs.

17 - The HooneyMooners

A couple rocks up in their holiday swim gear and decides to enter the middle lane doing slow, head-above-water breast stoke, followed by hugging and kissing at the bottom of the pool where the gymnasts are trying to tumble turn. Hugely irritating when the lagoon pool is open, however, you can't help but feel like a scrooge if you ask them to move out of the way. They are after all very happy.

18 - The Mob

A group of young lads that appear at weekends. They turn up in their board shorts, sit in large groups at the end of the pool and have macho competitions to see who is the best swimmer before leering at the mums on route to the lagoon pool.

19 - The Music Man

This person has their ears plugged into music whilst in the pool. They are focused, they are serious about swimming. However, they are known for not being aware of their surroundings with one less sense and crash into a lot of people. They will bob along to their tunes at the end of the pool as if to say "look everyone I am going to enjoy this a lot more than you as I have music" I for one am always very jealous of the music man.

20 - The Glamour Puss

Women that turn up to the pool in a full face of make-up, hair done, plunge neckline swimsuit. She looks like she is dressed for a day on an Ibizan beach rather than the local grotty leisure centre. She breast strokes up and down with her head above the water and if anyone splashes her she screams.

21 - Head Bobbers

A classic. People that are genuinely scared of getting their face wet, or just do not like having a wet face. Try not to splash these people, I always feel bad if I do.

22 - The Submarine

The very very pregnant lady takes her unborn child for a whizz around the pool. She will be met with "ooos" and "ahhhhs" from every woman in the pool and a few "should you be swimming?" comments. Whether she should or should not be swimming it is amazing to watch someone with such a swollen tummy not sink!

23 - The Average Joe

The best people! They turn up in normal amounts of gear, they are there to swim and improve. They know what lane they should be in, will be polite and courteous of other swimmers and if spoken to will politely engage in conversation before making excuses to carry on their training.

Whether you are one of these people or you experience encounters with a number of them we are all trying to improve or better ourselves whilst in the pool. The plan of action I take in order to not be wound up by people is to think of them as an obstacle. If someone is swimming slowly, overtake them race-style! Someone is splashing around whilst swimming? Try to go a few strokes more without breathing whilst they go past. A backstroker is off course and crashes into you? Well, get used to it as people will be crashing into you at Iron Man. However, if someone pops up into your crotch from swimming under you then I think there may be a reason to have a word.


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