This column first appeared in the October issue of Competitor Magazine.
Written by: Susan Lacke
Endurance sports are jam-packed with interesting characters, which is one reason I love triathlon. People watching, particularly at the pool during lap swim hours, is an entertaining pastime. Packed between the lanes of triathletes and Masters swimmers, you’re sure to bump into a few of these comical athletes.
Relegated to the pool due to injury, a runner wearing a floaty belt can often be found re-enacting “Chariots of Fire.” Any able-bodied runner in her line of sight will be met with an audible sigh and wistful gaze.
It is unclear why a person would come to the pool during lap swim to just read the newspaper on the deck … until you realize his “news” is really the tan brunette in Lane 2.
She certainly didn’t look that fast when she crouched down, smiled and chirped, “Mind sharing the lane with me?” Her cute flowered swimsuit and pink swim cap made her the most non-threatening lane partner you could have imagined. But when she lapped you again (and again), you had to ask if she has an older brother named Michael Phelps.
This swimmer means business. When sharing a lane with a Karate Kid, make sure you stay on your side of the blue stripe, or you’ll be met with an “accidental” karate chop to the back of your head the next time your paths cross.
You’d think this person is asthmatic, but he’s not. The Gasper is extremely fit (and knows it), yet clings to the pool wall at the end of every lap, panting heavily and telling the whole pool how he just got into Zone 5. No one really seems to care, but he ramps up the volume after each lap, just in case everyone in the pool is hard of hearing.
Seemingly innocent above the waterline, the teenaged Lovey-Dovies forget one important thing: We can still see everything their hands are doing below the water. Oh yes, we can.
Technically, he’s not lying when he tells his doctor he’s at the pool for 30 minutes every day: 15 minutes standing at the end of Lane 5, and 15 minutes up to his waist in the shallow end with his hands on his hips.
THE BREAKFAST CLUB
Wearing the requisite uniform of skirted swimsuit and white hair, these ladies slowly walk in packs from one end of the pool to the other while waving their arms through the water in tiny circles. Key phases of their workout: Warm up, gossip, gossip, gossip, cool down, and more gossip.