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swimming pool etiquette

Issue Apr 23, 2024 – Vale, Neil Rogers

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Legend to legend

I knew Neil well. I spent many hours with him following 'the black line' up and down Victoria Park pool in Sydney, under coach John Gregory.

In the surf, he raced for Clovelly and I did likewise for Bondi -- as did his brothers Ron and Greg, usually under the proud eye of their father, Norm.

I'm pretty sure Neil and I were in various representative teams together. He was very fast in the water and was a superb exponent of that most difficult of strokes, butterfly.

Neil was such a wonderful guy, always smiling, always laughing and a joy to be with.

I ran into him a year or two ago, with my brother Brook, as he emerged from Bronte rock pool after a few laps. There he was again, a smile on his face, a self-deprecating joke to tell.

He was a great mate and I'll miss him deeply.

Heartfelt condolences to those family and friends he leaves behind.

Leigh Emery
Bondi SBLSC & BASC (Bondi Amateur Swimming Club)

Issue Apr 8, 2024 – Be Goggle Smart

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Egg shampoo

I have swum in pools and oceans for approaching 60 years but early on I solved the problem of goggles fogging up. Growing up in a mining town, I heard stories of the problems miners have with safety goggles fogging. I was told the problem was solved by an observant miner who was shaving one day but, before he started, he wiped a spot from the glass mirror. It appeared his finger had egg cream shampoo on it. He continued to shave but the steam from the hot water fogged the mirror up but not the place he had wiped the mark of the mirror. After several tries, he found it was the egg cream shampoo that stopped the fogging.

This is a bit of a long story, but this led me to treat my goggles with shampoo before swimming. I use Johnson’s Top To Toe for babies as baby shampoo will not sting your eyes. I wet the inside the googles then shake the water out. I apply a very small amount of the shampoo, less than 5mm on my finger and rubbing it on the inside of goggle lenses. I then put a few drops of water on the inside of the lenses swish it gently around and tip the water out. When it dries, you will have an invisible film on the inside of your goggles, no fog. I have swum many 5k swims using this method and could plainly see the buoys all the way through the swim clearly.

Hope this helps,

Trevor

Interesting to see how these innovations come about: oss.c

Boofhead no more?

A great read, as usual. I’ve never thought that much about my goggles or mask before - but they are now gently soaking in soapy water before air drying and proper storage. Hopefully that will ‘de-boofhead’ me!

Phil,
Manly

Issue Feb 12, 2024 – Our most frightening experience

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Pain, numbness

(Hazards of open water swimming, Mar 18, '24)

Great article today about the impact of the cold water. It is true that it is often gone very quickly, at least in warm water. Though swimming here in Scotland over winter that feeling never really leaves you, there is just pain, and a level of numbness. But you do adapt. Today for example we all had smiles on our dials as the sun shone down on us and the water had warmed up to 6.3c. We really do celebrate when the water temperature gets to 10c, which we will expect arouond the end of April. No chance of that warm water here in Scotland even in a mild winter. Though we do get a buzz from the cold water and it does give you a huge energy kick for the rest of the day.

Greg
Glasgow

Cold water phobia

(Hazards of open water swimming, Mar 18, '24)

Hilarious!!!

Laydees have this twice!!!

The top bits and the bottom bits…s o youre lucky you’ve only got it once!!

Jo

How could we possibly know that, Jo!: oss.c

Little Bay

Thanks for a long and interesting read. I have a few comments on this article. I'm a 70 year old swimmer/ocean lover who has spent most of his water years between Bondi and Maroubra. Body surfing; boogie boards, fishing and spear fishing along that beautiful coastline.

I agree with the view on bull sharks in the harbour.. I've never ventured more than waist deep on a sandy shore there! My first thought on the Elizabeth Bay attack was the same; 7:45 pm wow!

I've swum inside Little Bay and Long Bay for years. At Little Bay, I swim inside the underwater break wall and occasionally snorkel outside.

I was there the day before that fatal Great White attack (on the inside).

I've viewed the fisherman's phone video. That (shark) had to be at least 4 metres long. It hit him from below first then came back from behind pushing him 10 metres before they disappeared.
Absolutely terrifying. That is a deep drop off to at least 10-12 metres close to the rocks. A hot fishing spot. Apparently, he was wearing a wetsuit. Very unlucky; wrong place-wrong time.

In the previous year, two 5 metre plus Great Whites were caught in shark mesh nets only a few hundred metres off Maroubra beach. They are out there.

Anthony
Eastern Suburbs, Sydney

You think sharks are a threat? Try...

I really loved this article. Spot on with all the risk management and taking accountability for the time of day, and environment that you swim in.

I no longer live in NSW, I live in Darwin. I participated in the annual Darwin Ocean swim last year... as you can imagine, your fear of sharks quickly dissipates to the fear of crocs. But same deal - people still splash in the water in Darwin during the dry season - though no big swims. Though I have heard of a local who swims everyday in the dry season. The attitude here is that you ALWAYS accept its croc territory and there is always a risk! Maybe OceanSwims should consider coming up to Darwin for the swim in July this year to put the shark fear into perspective 😂

Imogen
Darwin

Thank you for the read, and the lesson

Thank you so much for the informative article. Such good sensible advice. I will share with my ocean swimming buddies. We swim a lot at Malabar and we’re pretty spooked by the incident at Little Bay for a long time. But got back in pretty quick.

I swim in the harbour in events with lots of people so feel a bit safer 🤣.

I love how you mentioned how the back of the pack swimmers do it tougher. That’s me. I learnt to swim only 6 years ago and found a love for ocean swimming. Recently did ocean swim Fiji over 3 days. Was so amazing I do often feel discouraged because I’m not fast but can swim forever. Thanks for mentioning the slower swimmers.

Love your articles.

Thank you. 🙏

Keep on swimming. I’m actually at Lord Howe Island this week and look forward to lots of Lagoon swims

Catherine

Laugh 

One of the most interesting, informative and entertaining reads. Paul some of your words I say out loud and have a good laugh.

And I think I did that Dawny swim!

Bec

oss.c responds: No surf at Dawny, Bec, so you probably did do it.

Down below

I just wanted to say what an absolutely lovely piece of writing that was. It made me laugh out loud and it really brought back memories of wondering what's down beneath me.

Thanks, have a great day.

Martin

Teachable

I really enjoyed reading this newsletter. It's great that you (always) show your own vulnerability, and mistakes, whilst giving us all a "teachable moment". I also love your turn of phrase and humour.

Thanks for keeping me entertained and informed.

Linda

Water safety 

I found this one very interesting. I swam the 1km at Dawnies about 8 years ago and the only support assistance they had was a kayaker. He had a lot of territory to cover. The currents were quite strong swimming across to Cockatoo Is and hundred and hundreds of jelly blubbers. I felt very unsafe.

A friend who works for Sydney Harbour on the Rivercat said that is bullshark territory big time.

I did the Sydney Harbour Splash on Aust Day and there was a plethora of support craft.

Thanks

Lea

oss.c responds: That's a good point, point, Lea, and it's well made. It does reflect a difference in resources at the disposal of the organisers. Reidy's swim at Rose Bay has considerable sponsor support, but the Dawny swim had or has very little. As a water polo club, they don't even have the normal resources of trained lifesavers on hand. They're a battling awgie and they do quite well with what they've got. But it does raise the question of minimum standards in water safety. Should there be? If so, what should they be? Should ocean/open water swimming get into the quagmire of central organisation and regulation? We're getting into heavy territory here...

Magic 

That was a magic read! Well written.

Thank you

Steve

Generous

Brilliant once again.

Gina
North Coast

Issue Jan 28, 2024 – Lift your game!

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Not just about blockout

Blockout is great but it should be considered an adjunct, not first line protection. It’s great on the bits you can’t cover up but can’t compete with the 50+ UVP of a rashie, I reckon. The cancer council recommends sun protection with UV resistant clothing should be your firstline treatment.

I wear an ‘ecostinger’ full body swimsuit sunguard. It’s great. It takes 30 seconds to put on rather than minutes of contortions trying to get a full cover application of sunscreen. It’s not toxic or poisoning the water or leaving a scum in the pool. It protects against blueys and sea lice. The downside is I look like a pot-bellied spider man but hey, WTF. I figure I’m a 67 year old skin cancer doctor who has had x4 BCC’s over the years so fuck ‘em if they can’t take a joke.

I’m surprised I’m the only one in the pool or on an ocean swim wearing one. They cost $70. They fit snugly and feel good – there’s no drag ( I’m actually ~ 5 seconds per 100 faster with it on) I don’t know why everyone isn’t wearing one. They’re not like old school rashies which can feel baggy and create drag.

Dr Rick Wilcox
Coogee Skin Cancer Clinic

oss.c responds –

We'll be ordering ours as soon as we can get our measurements. Not your regular rashie.

https://www.ecostinger.com/men-stinger-suits-dive-skins/

- As for blocking out at 7am, yeah nah, probably not. If the UV index is less than 4 you’re OK. I tell my patients exercising before 10 or after 4 without blockout is good for your Vitamin D levels. I reckon you’re OK on your early morning swims assuming you come in afterwards. If, however, you’re spending the rest of the day on the beach or outdoors, sure get an early morning base coat of blockout and then top up again at 10.

Thanks again for the informative article,

Newsletter issue Dec 27, 2023 – Pool's rules

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Backstrokers

If someone substantially slower than you joins you in a lane, I think it's perfectly OK to push off as the slower swimmer comes in to the wall. This way, both of you can complete your laps undisturbed by overtaking.

Not sure if anyone has mentioned this, but in an ocean/rock pool where there are no lanes, lines on the bottom etc, lanes are not shared as swimmers can't keep accurate direction. Please, in such ocean pools I frequently see people floundering around doing backstroke which ends up zig zapping diagonally.

Jonathon
Sydney

Young female triathletes

I am a pool and open water swimmer. I have found over the years that young triathletes women hardly ever obey the lane etiquette rules. I think they are the worst as they tend to join me in my lane and never let me know beforehand. They just don’t seem to be able to judge speed and often push off just in front of me, slowing me down!

Then they generally swim 1500m, no matter what, all at one pace! When I try to overtake them they won’t let you pass unless I can catch them at the wall and either duck to the other side of them as I tumble turn or cut-them-off. This excludes regular pool squad swimmers who have learnt the rules!

They are just as bad in the open water, especially around the buoys. I can only take so much of it before I eventually swim over the top of them at the next buoy after which they keep clear!

I am a female in my 70s so know 'the tricks', but it’s a shame I have to resort to using them. After all, I am in a different age group so am no threat winning wise.

Terry

Poolies mute

Pool etiquette is lost on some people. The ones that come swim casually in holidays are one. 

Recently I was swimming in a lane with one other swimmer which was fine. Then a couple of ladies joined us kicking with their paddle boards and talking side by side. How rude and inconsiderate. Didn’t move over when we passed them either. The pool attendant was looking the other way. I didn’t say anything to these women. I wish the poolies had more power and tell them to move over to the splash and fun lane. But they don’t want to say anything. 

I enjoyed your email regarding pool etiquette. Maybe signage is the way to go. 

Christina Forrest

Newsletter issue Dec 18, 2023 – Pool's rules

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Tricky

I very much enjoyed your recent newsletter featuring all the photos of picturesque ocean swims around the world and the feature on pool etiquette. I have been a pool swimmer for over 30 years since I was young but still get a chance to get out to the northern beaches in Sydney and here in Moreton Bay, Brisbane. There is nothing like ocean swimming for the open water, perfect water, physical and mental challenges,the unknown dangers, and the invigorating freedom.

I wanted to ask you a question regarding the pool etiquette. Unfortunately I think most of those points are completely ignored today and I wonder if it wouldn't go astray if we had more signage. Even just keeping to the left is a basic one. Unfortunately during the summer months it gets very crowded. I often swim at the Prince Alfred Park Pool in Sydney and during the winter months is it lovely, but during the height of summer, a bit of a battle.

I haven't heard of the term the "turning pad" but completely agree. But how would one encourage this? I feel somewhat awkward telling people to move when they congregate in the middle of the wall. Often I will just hit the left hand corner of the wall and tumbleturn.

Lane speeds are always tricky because your speed is sometimes relative to whoever else is swimming in the lane. But generally I try to stay out of others' way and modulate my speed and give way, if only everyone did that, or could be encouraged to stop or pause at each end.

The last comment I would make is that is it still accepted to touch people's toes to overtake them? I used to do this but almost everyone would never get the hint and keep swimming, and then if you did touch them harder, that would be seen as aggressive. So I just gave up and either gave way, swam extra hard to overtake them or just swam over the top of them. I think people are not always aware of this.

At least in the ocean, or the dam here you can swim anywhere you want, and as fast as you want, only having to contend with the friendly fish and the sharks.

Many thanks for your thoughts,

Hugo

Same-sex lanes

Thanks for your messages. However, you forgot the most important one. Try to stay in same sex lanes. If that is offensive then that’s the problem. It is very easy is for a woman to accuse a man of 'sexual touching' or being 'creepy' if you happen to get close. Our ‘lady’ coach never puts guys and Gals together and it makes for a much less stressful swim for all. I never jump in a lane with a woman, probably because I live in the real world.

Tony

oss.c responds...

Have to say, we've never known a pool to have same-sex lanes. Would have thought there aren't enough lanes to go around to make such a distinction. In any case, any 'touching', inadvertent or otherwise, generally happens, in our experience – not that anyone has ever touched us up, never mind how much we were looking for it – is between lanes underneath the lane rope, eg backstrokers whose arms extend into the next lane: oss.c

From experience

Great read, off and on for many yearsI have done laps, I'd add couple of comments from experiences !

- Read the pool, some days it's just really busy in every available lane, so sprint work or fins are very unlikely to go well
- And a (boofhead) one for bloke swimming groups, someone be a leader, don't let the group intimidate slower or female swimmer, call it out

Suffice to say the majority do follow your rules.

Craig

Blind-sided

Very much appreciated, especially to be aware of other swimmers.

I recently had serious altercations with a swimmer who insisted he did not know where I was in the lane because he swims with his eyes closed! Apparently, he did not know I was there and was therefore not deliberately swimming at and over me, neither did he hear the lifeguard who used his rescue tube and voice to ask him to keep left, 8 times! A risk to public safety on many levels all of which may have been avoided if the DM had appropriately allocated lanes. (Yes, it should be mandatory for DM's to be old enough to drive!)

Nothing is more uplifting than successfully sharing lanes with other swimmers; it is like poetry in motion. That skill may only come from collisions as a kid in mini-squad and not always experienced by all lap swimmers so more education is always welcome. Great job.

Did you by any chance write my bio? Do you know me well? — "We have this friend, see; a mild-mannered lady who is a model of equanimity, of even temper; a sea of calm in the tempestuous ocean of daily life. But she has her trigger, and that trigger is swimmers who break the rules of pool etiquette."

That and kids compressing lane ropes, so you almost break your fingers doing backstroke in a shared lane. The best lifeguards are serious lap swimmers and do not let it happen. The best pools are the ones that cater for all swimmers, sadly they are becoming fewer and fewer. Glad mine has great lifeguards and value their lappers.

Happy Festivities may it be filled with water :)

Anon

Good idea

No comments on your ‘rules’, they all make sense.

In relation to swimming in the ‘right’ direction, I was recently swimming in the new Sea Lanes pool in Dover, UK. The directions in the lanes reverse each lane, i.e. Lane 1 is clockwise, 2 is anti-clockwise, 3 is clockwise, and so on. Confusing at first, but in every case the swimmers on either side of any lane rope are always swimming in the same direction. The direction is well sign-posted on the Slow, Medium, Fast signs.

Horses for courses I guess.

Garry
Wednesdays with Garry, Bronte

Shellacking?

No shellacking here oceanswimsafaris - spot on, so much so you should provide this poster size to be at all public swimming pools.

well done

Craig

Clueless poolies, etc

Do not dive in on top of other swimmers - it's so obvious, it shouldn't need to be said, but it does. And it should be number one on your list, rather than nine. But then again 'thou shot kill' is only six on the Mosaic list.

It's happened to me several times, and is alarming. Most times I've waited until the offender has done a return lap, then got their attention with a gentle grip on the forearm, and pointed out the danger and stupidity of what they've done. Always got an aggressive response, indicating the offenders know exactly what they're doing, and don't care.

And complaints to the clueless pool attendants are of no use - usually they imply that you, as the complainant, have the problem. The worst case like this was when a teenager bombed from the balcony above the pool, into the lane next to mine just as I was turning. The chief pool attendant, summoned by one of his juniors, asked if I was 'the guy who got a fright'. More like shit myself at having what seemed like a depth charge go off a foot from my shoulder. Chief pool attendant didn't even bother to speak to the bomber.

One day, a poorly executed dive is going to land on a turning swimmer, resulting in serious injury to one or both, possibly paraplegia for the one on the bottom. Does that constitute assault? Or manslaughter if the injured party drowns? (God forbid, but possible). It should. As a result of our no-fault accident compensation regime (in New Zealand), the victim could not sue. I wonder if such reckless behaviour goes on in countries where they can e.g. the US?

Mark Boyd
NZ

Very good

Very good

Tim

Exception

Great newsletter! Always interesting content. Thanks!

However, may I suggest a caveat to 'Don’t push off the wall as another swimmer is coming in to turn' rule?

I swim in a small-ish (6 lane) pool located in a coastal country town. Unfortunately, we are not afforded the luxury of lanes allocated to fast/medium/slow/recreational swimmers, so it’s pretty much a jump-in-where-you-can arrangement. Considering other pool patrons at the time of day that I swim, I fall into the category of 'medium/fast', so if I can only find lane space with a slow or recreational swimmer, I will absolutely push off the wall as they approach. I don’t do this to assert authority or intimidate, but simply to let the slower swimmer know that a faster swimmer is now sharing the lane.

I would hope that a faster swimmer would afford me the same courtesy, rather than come thundering past me half way into the next lap.

What say you?

Elizabeth
In the country somewhere

oss.c responds...

Oscar Wilde said the exception disproves the rule. However, no rule or law is completely black or white (apart from those about murder, theft, etc). When it comes to our rules, they must also be tempered with reality. If a pool has so few lanes for lap swimmers that all are lumped in together, then you need to be realistic and use your judgement. Overall, we need to be courteous. The situation you outline, Elizabeth, is completely understandable: oss.c

Wee rule

They left out, Don’t pee in the pool. Especially from the high-diving board.

Collins
USA

Drafting

Isn't 'drafting' good practice for when participating in an ocean swim event? It's a way of getting used to what happens in these swims?

RS

oss.c responds...

Sorry, can't agree. Drafting is cheating, full stop. Plenty of people encourage it and even coach it, but it doesn't make it right at our level. Elite OW swimmers do it, but they also usually take turns leading. It's a way of conserving energy over very long race distances. But at ordinary mug level, such as ours, it is using someone else's efforts to reduce the need to rely on your own fitness and skills. It's a bludge and it's cheating. It can also be offensive, even a form of assault if the drafting involves touching the leading swimmer: oss.c 

Triaffeletes 

I wish more people were aware of said pool etiquette - triathletes/ IM are great offenders!

Anna
Northern NSW

Hand paddles

I would like to add the use of hand paddles used by those middle aged men with flat-arm recoveries as a safety/etiquette matter. Those paddles can open up the back of an oncoming freestyler’s hand due to the momentum of the collision. (And maybe an older balder head like mine is also vulnerable.)

Maybe leave the hand paddles to squad time or to those swimmers who are usually in a squad and have a good high-elbow technique and know how to safely swim with them.

John Pratt
Albury

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