The David Wilkie effect of public swimming v competitive swimmers
21 Sep 2020
Most people will have heard Olympian David Wilkie, who allegedly cancelled his virgin active membership after being told off for swimming too fast. Wilkie won Olympic Gold in the 1976 Olympics for the 200m Breastroke
As a competitive swimmer, I see lots of swimming blogs and sites, where comments have been along the lines of ‘this is ridiculous’ and lots of discussion about how frustrating it is. I have also experienced first hand where people have said how arrogant and annoying people that are good swimmers can be, turning up and ‘taking over the lanes’.
Most pools do try their best, during public swim sessions there are lanes ropes in. However there are still clearly issues, which is why ‘lane rage’ does still exist. It is always going to be difficult to fix this, as whilst provision has improved over the last few years, there are such differences in ability and opinion when it comes to swimming that its going to be difficult for everyone to understand where each other comes from. Also as everyone is paying to use the facilities in the way that they see fit, they feel justified in expecting to be able to swim how they personally prefer.
Most competitive swimmers just assume often that everyone will follow the rules we all know and understand from swim club. They are often good at judging lane speeds, and wouldn’t set off right in front of someone swimming quickly, or on the feet of a slower swimmer. They also understand that touching someone’s feet is a sign for ‘can I pass you please’ or that if you accidentally hit someone whilst swimming its not on purpose but just a common occurance. For those that are new to ‘Lane Swimming’ these can seem alien.
Perhaps the issue is with the provision of swimming and sessions need to be clearly split between the different abilities. However nobody wants to freeze out potential swimmers.
Maybe we should all try and see our swim sessions from the perspective of others and help each other out, as in life that perhaps would make it a nicer environment for all.