Public swimming sessions can be daunting for both competitive swimmers who are used to a set program in a club or the first timers who have decided to take the plunge. I've spent hours both public swimming and swimming in clubs around the UK and here are a few things I've learned that have helped me cope along the way, hopefully, you don't have to learn the hard-way to pick up these tips!
1. Straight After Work Is Primetime Water Rush Hour
Depending on your schedule and how easy it is for you to get to a pool really comes into play here. But I've found that between 6-8pm is rush hour, especially on a Monday and Wednesday. People tend to start the week active on a Monday and take a day off on a Tuesday and have another session on a Wednesday. If you can try getting up early and going before work, not only is it better for you as it kicks starts our metabolism and gets your brain in gear, it's a lot quieter and means you don't have to dread going for the swim straight after work when you just want to get home. The other option is going 9-10pm. People don't tend to swim after they have eaten but most competitive swimmers do it every day, After 9 pm is usually really quiet and is a great time to go.
2. Touch the toes and pass at the end of the lane.
A mismatch in pacing in public swimming lanes is usually a given when you take a dip. It means you might be getting caught up all the time or you might be catching people up all the time either. Generally, the rule in swimming clubs is touching the person in fronts toes means they should stop at the end of the lane or if the lane is big enough move towards the lane rope to allow swimming down the middle. This doesn't really happen in public swimming so what tends to happen is people powering down the middle of the lane, this can often mean collisions if people aren't careful.
3. Resting in the lane
When you are having a rest at the end of a length you should always move to the edge of the wall near to the lane rope and if there is no room on the wall you should move further down the side next to the lane rope. This is mainly for your own safety, if there is a competitive swimmer or more likely splashy distance swimmer coming in, they aren't going to stop there swim just because your backside is in the way of the wall. They'll usually do a tumble turn and push off from whatever is in the middle of the wall so try not to be there! I've seen some angry people on both sides when this happens.
4. A Breaststroke Kick In The Teeth
The widest part (apart from butterfly arms) of most swimmers technique, its also one of the most powerful actions in swimming, if you are overtaking a breaststroker or swimming up behind one, just be careful because a lot of breaststrokers don't make much splash and you can't often feel the kicking action like in front crawl or backstroke. Having you goggles kicked into the back of your skull is not a feeling you want while gliding down the pool, also a kick in the side can be really painful. Most people aren't aware of where their legs are and whats behind them so keep an eye out.
5. Diving is a no no...
It's simple, there's no need to dive - the only reason swimmers dive in is usually to race or to get going quickly. Because people are constantly getting in and out of the pool in public swimming it's all too easy to catch someone with your foot or simply dive straight into someone because you have completely misjudged it. Most pools say no diving anyway just as a precaution. Even swimmers who train 20 hours a week can hurt themselves diving.
6. Climbing Out Over The Starting Blocks
This one is cringey to watch, I've seen guys knock out their front teeth and bust up noses slipping while climbing out over diving blocks. Your best bet is just to pull your self up out on the side or just simply use the steps. You won't see swimmers getting out over the blocks much, there's a good reason why - blocks are not fixed a lot of the time and can wobble...