The middle-aged guy who holds court in the fast lane

Monday, April 25, 2016



Pools have archetypes: the elderly lady in the flowered bathing cap doing head up breast stroke in the slow lane, the triathlete who carries her gear in a mesh bag and wears an Iron Man bathing cap, the older man who does whip kick and butterfly arms on his back and takes over entire lanes with his wide arm-and-leg radius. And then the amazing swimmer who is clearly part-dolphin and part liquid mercury, whose flip turns are what my dreams are made of.

And then there is always the middle-aged dude who holds court in the fast lane. I don't think I have ever been at a pool without this guy standing in the fast lane, not swimming, of course, talking to the regulars (anyone who will talk to him really), discussing intervals and splits and technique. He's the guy who judges everyone's stroke (loudly! Vocally!). The guy who offers unsolicited coaching tips, the guy who tells you you're not kicking from your hips, that you've got to work on your entry, to watch your crossover. The guy whose ego is so big, he will only swim his 4, maybe 6 lengths wearing fins to ensure he'll actually pass people. 

I can't stand this guy, his ego, his machismo, his mansplaining swimming when his stroke is never very strong. 

But after the lifeguard blows the whistle, and length swim ends, I wonder if he feels small and deflated, walking across the deck to the change room, his chlorine-scented power leaking from him.

I wonder if he starts counting down the minutes until the next length swim while he towels off. I wonder if his heart leaps when he locks his sensible shoes in a locker, the quarter ca-chunking as he turns the key. 



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