There has been quite a lot of “noise” in cyberspace in response to an etiquette blog I posted a few weeks ago. My post got picked up by some bloggers and there was an infuriated and rabid letter to the Editor of the leading Open Water Swimming publication, H2O Magazine. The poor guy who wrote the letter angrily referred to both LoneSwimmer and Swim4good’s rules on swimming etiquette as “arrogant”. First, I must say, that at Swim4good, we took it as a compliment to be grouped together with LoneSwimmer. Anyone who has read his informative blogs, knows that he is the opposite of arrogant. His contributions have actually been very helpful for open water novices like myself. But this blog is not about defending LoneSwimmer, as he has done a fine job at that himself. Here I’d like to clarify some points that poor Bob Anderson missed.
In his note, Bob Anderson failed to understand that Swim4good’s etiquette blog was directed to competition swimmers who choose to swim in an organized event or with a team, not the leisurely Sunday driver at the local YMCA.
In general, if you are on a masters team, the coach will separate you into lanes according to ability and our rules apply here, this is totally different from a shared lane in a community pool. The type of pool where Bob swims is not the best place for competition swimmers to train but not everyone has access to a masters team or private swimming grounds, so in the case of a community pool, both fast and slower swimmers need to have a mutual respect. There are other rules (about.com has the best list I’ve seen so far) for this situation and they ensure “community” swimming harmony. And no, I do not agree that slow swimmers should have the right of way as Bob suggests. Just like on a freeway, there are rules to the road that everyone must follow. Bob, would you drive below the speed limit in the fast lane on the motorway? Of course not, you’d get run over, cause traffic jams and worse, accidents. It could be bad.
Returning to the event that inspired our etiquette blog (the Tuna Race); anyone who chooses to swim a 5k race and cannot do so without holding onto the feet of the person in front of them deserves all of the arrogance I can shovel out. It is not only dangerous, but it is unfair and unsportsmanshiplike. So, for all the Sunday driving Bobs out there, once you start signing up for triathlon and races, be careful if you don’t follow the etiquette rules because you might get kicked in the face.