Santa Fe New Mexican
Making a splash at the public pool
On a summer day in the desert, nothing is more refreshing than a dip in the pool. But for many, doing laps is a workout ritual. With pools few and far between in Santa Fe, how you share the space will make you sink or swim.
Many posted regulations are preventive measures to keep swimmers safe and healthy. Reacquaint yourself with these tips to make a splash in pool etiquette.
Pools and the surrounding areas are disinfected daily, but swimmers play a crucial role in keeping the environment sanitary.
One of the most important rules a swimmer can follow is to shower on-site just before entering the pool. This hygienic step is crucial in preventing cryptosporidium. Showering at home does not count because wearing used undies or going to the loo after negates any cleansing.
Don’t eat food or snacks in the pool area. Crumbs and sugar can lead to bacterial problems.
Gum is not allowed because a rogue wad could end up in another swimmer’s mouth or clog the filters.
Glass in any form is huge no-no. A broken glass can require the draining of a pool for cleaning.
Swimmers and spectators must go barefoot or wear pool shoes. Street shoes carry too many dangerous substances, compromising sanitary conditions.
Spectators should gather in a designated viewing area to keep the deck clear if there is an emergency.
Babies and toddlers must wear swim diapers. A poo in the pool is big to-do requiring closure and significant treatment.
Young children must be accompanied by an adult in kiddie and main pools at all times.
Appropriate swim attire is required, as most pools are family facilities. And no undies for health reasons.
Obey the lifeguard. Their job is to ensure your safety. The charge of keeping track of dozens of swimmers bobbing through the water is an enormous responsibility. Be kind to them.
When it comes to the rules of the road
for lap swimmers, I reached out to the pros for their expert advice. Former Olympian Dan Kutler competed in the ’96 Atlanta games for Israel. Amy, a collegiate swimmer, has been competing for the last seven years. Both described their passion for lane etiquette in the same colorful tone.
If there are more swimmers than lanes, you’ll need to share. The protocol for entering an occupied lane is to acknowledge the swimmer, announce that you’ll be joining the lane and ask them what side of the lane they prefer.
The lane is divided by a center line painted on the bottom of the pool, and each swimmer stays to one side, careful that their strokes are smooth and limbs aren’t flailing about.
Lifeguards often pay attention to swimmers’ abilities and possibly match them to a lane of someone with the same experience.
At busy pool times, more than two swimmers may have to share a lane. “Since we often have four or five people in a lane,” Amy said, “we circle swim. The etiquette for that is that each swimmer needs to stay on the right-hand side of the lane.”
“When resting at the wall, don’t rest in the middle of it. Other swimmers may still be doing laps and no one wants to do a flip turn on your privates,” Kutler advised.
“Lanes are typically designated slow, medium and fast for a reason,” he added. “You will know if you are slow by other swimmers constantly nipping at your toes.”
Tailgaters, beware. Amy said, “I can’t stand when people draft off of me. It’s annoying to know that they’re doing less work, especially when that person is crowding you in the first place. Common courtesy [for the person drafting] is to either ask to go ahead or to give them some space.”
For those with a penchant for lane rage or an athlete wanting to maximize valuable time, inquire about a lane rental. Follow these rules and recommendations, and you’ll all get along swimmingly.