Changing rooms: check. Reaching the pool and taking a look at the lifeguards: check and check. The only thing left to do is to jump in! (Oh, you're late? Go read that. We'll warm up while waiting for you.)
3 - The pool
Here we go, time to taste the water. We're fine on the fact we're here to swim, not to relax, right?... Let's just say it will depend on the country we are in.
In the USA, the swimming pools are not over fancy places. A pool, swimming lanes. You come here to SWIM.
In France, the swimming pools are a everything-in-one-place kind of concept: multiple pools, saunas, hamman... the more, the better (the reason why it's so expensive, in my opinion). I guess there are still basic swimming pools, but it's getting rare.
Anyway, you'll still be able to find a pool with swimming lanes. So, here we are. If there are lots of lanes, it's great to have lanes depending on swimming speed. Like that, you can complete your workout more easily. Even if you don't find that, you could find lanes for swimmers with gear (for example, fins). I have fins. I'm naive so I thought having fins means you're not here by mistake and, in this lane, swimmers would be hard at work. WRONG!
In France, we found a way to combine a swimming pool workout and a girl's night out: fins+board. You buy fins. You convince a girlfriend to do the same. You meet at the pool. You use a board and you can do laps while gossiping. Bonus point: you didn't even get your head into the water. Genius, right? And, as it's more convenient to speak, you do your laps side by side. Oh, there are other people in the lane? Come on, not a big deal. A little bit of squeezing and it's fine. [Annoyance level: 2/5]
I was lucky my Californian swimming pool never got overcrowded. Worst case scenario: 3 in a lane. You swim in circle and you pass when needed, nothing too bad. But, most of the time, we were 2 in a lane. We cut the lane into 2 parts and each swimmer can do out and backs on his side. PER-FECT.
Unfortunately, I didn't find such a quiet pool in France. If everyone was concerned about the others well being, it would not be an issue. But it's not often the case. I met characters who puzzled me...
4 in a lane, 25m pool. You have to deal with the different speeds of the various swimmers. You have to stop to put distance between you and the swimmer in front of you. You have to speed up or slow down to pass or be able to pass. It's normal. You're in a public pool. Well, normal for you. Here comes a fifth swimmer. He actually found THE solution for him: to swim right IN THE MIDDLE. Of course, it's easier. He got his own little lane. You think it might be a bit tight? Actually, yes, but it doesn't bother him. He punches people but he doesn't stop or apologize. Who cares? I thought the lifeguard would say something. Nope. Nobody is drowning, so his job is done. Ok, ok... I hope you'll forgive me but I stopped the swimmer and nicely asked him to swim like everybody else: in circle. And I pointed the fact apologizing when you punch someone is the least one can do. You know that sour-tempered girl at the pool? That's me! [Annoyance level: 4/5]
Next example, other guy (but same day). 2 in the lane, we are swimming in circle as people keep coming and going. Everything's fine. And here comes our 2nd specimen who decided to come show his skills to the whole swimming pool audience. He entered the water. I'm on the other side and just made my turn. He starts swimming right towards me... He will realize his mistake, for sure. Actually, no! I move to the other side to avoid colliding with him. He makes his turn and, again, swims right towards me. Ok, so, this time, I didn't even think twice. I stood in his way and told him it's clever to swim in circle when there are multiple people in a lane. But, mister swimmer knew better: you should swim in circle this way and not this way or whatever. Well, great for you, but, excuse me, when you enter a lane with people already swimming in it (even if it's not the way you would have liked), YOU JUST SWIM THE SAME WAY. Thank you very much. [Annoyance level: 5/5]
4 - The showers
After such adventures, you can congratulate yourself for managing your swim workout. You're still feeling relaxed. That's swimming magic. Before going back home, you'll have a nice shower.
In the USA, women's changing rooms, the showers are shared. You have your shower. No embarrassment. It's actually even jovial. Women are chatting. At first, it felt strange to me. I mean, you are naked or partially naked! But, in the end, there's nothing wrong about it. It's nice to have people willing to speak with you and not trying to avoid you.
And, American women being American, they thought about everything: shower gel, shampoo, conditioner, bath sponge. And even razor and shaving foam sometimes. Having a shower at the pool is just like having a shower at home!
In France, if you want to have your shower, it's a quick one. If showers are separated for men and women, you don't even think about getting rid of your swimsuit. Can you imagine me at the police station for exhibitionism? ME!! That takes the cake.
Well, quite often, you can find private shower stalls. In there, I guess you can have your shower... but, still, it's not that reassuring with their penal code and warning and stuff. So, don't think you're at the spa.
And there's the pool with the shared (men and women all together) changing rooms and so showers too. Honestly, I'm still puzzled by that. I don't know if I am the problem (Am I posh or something?) but, seriously, it's shocking to me. I can't figure this thing out. Should I have to be ok just having my shower next to a man (even if I would keep my swimsuit on obviously)? What do you think? And, go figure, there is no private shower stall in this pool. Actually, there are but for disabled people. So, I'm sorry but I use them.
So, now I guess we can agree on that: going to the pool IS an adventure. At least, we have stories to tell! How about you? Tell me about your swimming lane buddies!
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