Lessons in pool etiquette: Masters edition

Rob and Donal have already said what needs to be said about lap swimming etiquette – and with great style, I might add.

What I’d add to the discussion is this: The importance of etiquette is not limited to lap swimming! It’s not just the noodlers and resolutionistas. You might think Masters swimmers would pick up the basics of pool etiquette pretty quickly. It’s tougher to get away with being oblivious and/or rude in a team environment. You might even think more experienced Masters swimmers – those who, by virtue of their proficiency, have obviously been swimming for many years – would be least likely to offend.

Which leads me to a funny story. On my Masters squad, we recently had a new person join, who just moved from out of town. We’ll call him/her “Pat.” Pat is an excellent swimmer – most likely, (s)he once competed at the college level. Nonetheless, here I am, writing this post…

With a tip of the hat to Bill M., here are five New Rules of Etiquette in Masters swimming:

  1. When you join a new Masters team, join the lane you can keep up with… without equipment. Do not join the lane you “aspire” to swim in, but can only make the intervals with the assistance of gigantic flippers.
  2. If, on your previous team, everyone used gigantic flippers on all the main sets, do not assume that on your new team everyone will also use gigantic flippers on all the main sets – and that therefore, it is still OK for you to use gigantic flippers on all the main sets.
  3. Do not leave five seconds apart when everyone else is leaving ten seconds apart. Especially in a long-course pool with only three people per lane.
  4. When politely asked to leave ten seconds apart, do not petulantly ask at the next break, “Is it a crime to leave five seconds apart?”
  5. When it is explained that, “Yes, sometimes people get annoyed when someone pushes off right on their feet in a long-course pool with plenty of space” — do not, in response, say, “Well, I like chasing after bubbles – it makes me go faster.” Um, no. See, here’s the thing, Pat: It’s not about you.

Actually, that’s a pretty good rule to live by when swimming with a team: It’s not about you. 

Rob‘s guidelines for lap swimming etiquette boiled down to: Don’t be a dick. 

Donal‘s guidelines boiled down to: Be aware of what is going on around you.

To these I would add:

When you join a new team, pay close attention to the prevailing norms. Everywhere is different. What is normal in one place might be unbearably annoying in another. It’s your responsibility to figure that out – not your teammates’.

2011 USMS Open-Water Championships

The schedule of 2011 USMS open-water national championships is now available. I did the “grand tour” this year – and it was fun – but I had no plans to replicate it next year. Unfortunately, this schedule makes it look as if USMS is trying to prevent people from doing them all:

  • June 12 – 10K – Fort Myers, FL
  • June 18 – 25K – Noblesville, IN
  • June 25 – 5K – Coney Island, NY
  • July 3 – 1 mile – Sweet Home, OR
  • August 13 – 2-mile (cable) – Lake Placid, NY
  • August 20 – 2.4-mile – Madison, WI

That’s right – 4 of the 6 national championships are on four consecutive weekends! Even better, the marathon, ultra-marathon, and half-marathon distances (10K, 25K, and 5K) are on three consecutive weekends.

Some other interesting co-incidences (in the literal sense), especially relevant to marathon swimmers:

For open-water swimmers, it always seems like the days of summer are too few. This really takes that sentiment to an entirely new level!

The death of tech suits

At long last, the minutes from the Long Distance committee at the recent USMS National Convention are available. I’ve cut and pasted the most interesting excerpts (IMO) below.

Bottom line: The era of full-body tech suits (B70 Nero Comp & similar) in USMS-sanctioned open-water events is now over. I believe this is a good thing, but I present the following without further commentary.

Well, aside from saying: From now on, my friends, you’ll have to keep your man-boobs in check the old-fashioned way!



Swimwear allowed for open water events is defined below and is not impacted by decisions of FINA, USA-Swimming or part 1 of USMS rules. It is the swimmer’s responsibility to understand the appropriate swimwear allowed at a particular event.

303.6.2 Rules for Category I swimwear for open water events

A. Swimwear shall include only a swimsuit, cap or caps (which may include those made of neoprene), and goggles. Swim caps shall be defined as head gear conforming to a traditional swim cap design and shall not extend to protect the neck and shoulders.

B. The competitor shall wear only one swimsuit in one or two pieces. All swimsuits must shall be made from textile materials. For men, the swimsuit shall not extend above the navel nor below the knees, and for women, shall not cover the neck, extend past the shoulder, nor extend below the knees.

303.6.3 Rules for Category II swimwear for open water events

A. Swimwear that does not meet the requirements for Category I swimwear shall be considered Category II swimwear. Swimwear may include a swimsuit or wetsuit, cap or caps, goggles, arm bands, and rash guards. Nose clips, ear plugs, wristwatches and grease are also allowed.

One Hour Postal results

The results from the first USMS Long Distance Championship of the year – the 1 Hour Postal Swim – are now up. I placed 9th of 77 among men age 25-29. It was a competitive year – my 5,265 yards would have placed 4th last year.

Somewhat annoyingly, I got beat by 35 yards or less by 3 guys. Even worse, I would have placed 4th among men 30-34 – an age group I joined less than 2 weeks after the swim.

None of that really matters, of course, except for purposes of point calculations.

Go the Distance

Go the Distance is a nice little motivation hack. Each day (or week, or whatever), you enter how far you’ve swum into your account at usms.org. The online tool keeps track of your total distance accumulated for the calendar year, and posts that number online each morning – along with ~1,500 other participants.

It’s a reason to get to the pool on days when you might otherwise not. If you’re motivated by numbers, you can pursue “milestones” (50 miles, 100 miles, 500 miles, etc.), which sponsor NIKE rewards with various goodies – a swim cap for 50 miles, a water bottle for 250, up to a $250 gift certificate for 1500.

Or if you’re motivated by sheer competitiveness, you can peruse the list and, oh I don’t know, find someone you want to “beat.”

Such as one Dave Radcliff, a 76-year old member of the 1956 Olympic team, who has swum 107.81 miles this year, to my 95.76

Dave, I’m coming after you!