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Pool Politics

June 15th, 2017 / by / in: Uncategorised / No responses

I did politics A level and I loved it. Its entirely possible that that was just because it gave me a legitimate excuse to disagree with a teacher but, nevertheless, it was my favourite subject.

Recently with two general elections, the Brexit vote and fact that Donald Trump is still in the White House I think I’ve had enough. I don’t trust the people we are voting for AT ALL and I certainly no longer trust the electorate but, frankly, how are we suppose to make the right decisions when we’re never presented with the facts in a straightforward and honest format?

Anyway I’m not here to rant – I’m here because I figured that at least in the pool I could be free of the politics that bombards us in our day to day lives…. BUT NO. The pool, it seems, is just as politicised as Westminster and the West Wing.

It started one day when I was ambling (reluctantly) towards the pool and a woman with a mesh bag filled with polystyrene torture implements trotted past me. She was dressed in full lycra and lugging what looked like a 5 litre water bottle. My heart sank. I had forgotten how seriously people take sport and how that that’s usually the point at which I stop enjoying it!

I then ended up in the same lane as this lady and she clearly wasn’t happy about it (after all I had only come equipped with a hat and googles so clearly wasn’t worthy of use of even the ‘medium’ pace lane). Anyway I was incredibly British and polite and deferential and I swam my flippin’ heart out so as not to upset her. Sadly, I failed.

I was just faffing about with my goggles at one end (pressed against the lane rope so as to allow her clear passage) when I heard the first “tut”. Several lengths later and there was another and more definite “tut” “sigh” combo – and so it continued for about 15 minutes. Eventually I took a proper look at her and noticed she was wearing training fins so was clearly swimming like a torpedo but was still cross with me for getting in her way (IN THE MEDIUM LANE!). I was furious but unable to compete (unfit) or say anything (British) so I ducked into the neighbouring ‘fast’ lane and swam happily for another 20 lengths or so. She definitely didn’t like that but thankfully left me to it.

Its by no means an isolated experience – Tuesday and Thursday lunchtimes are the worst in my local pool as all the men arrive for their endurance training sessions. I swear there is so much testosterone in the water I’m surprised I don’t emerge with hairs on my chest or feel the compulsion to high five everyone I pass.

What is interesting is that my fellow Henley Mile girls have experienced exactly the same thing. We have a plan to each take a laminated 8K training schedule with us and just leave it at the end of our training lane to try and intimidate the bullies but seriously who would have imagined such low tolerance levels in a swimming pool of all places?

There were times when this sort of approach would have put me off swimming – I just can’t bear it. Its no wonder that women like me decide its easier to hide at home than feel chastised for simply ‘having a go’. Luckily I’m feeling pretty bullish at the moment and its more likely to make me want to get fit enough to ‘out-swim’ her than give up but that isn’t always the way I feel about things.

My point is that I’m not sure I’m very proud to be part of a world that is increasingly so intolerant of others. I just want to swim – I’m not brilliant but I’m good. I’m not fit but I’m trying my podgy little heart out. I loathe wearing a swimming costume in public but I’m still overcoming that fear repeatedly to try and make this work. Flipper-Woman should be whooping and cheering at my attempt at self-improvement not making deliberately audible sounds of disapproval at me because I’m not quite at the same point she is.

I’d better stop typing now as just thinking about this is making me cross. Looks like I did just want a rant….I lied….maybe I do have a future as a politician after all…..


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