1. Questions, questions
The coach tells you all that the set is 16 x 50m off 45secs. At the end of the first 50m the person in the next lane says, ‘What are these off?’ At the end of the next 50m they say ‘How many is it?’ At the end of the next 50m they say ‘How many have we done?’ At the end of the next 50m you say ‘SHUT UP!’ (in your head).
2. Don’t push it
You’re hammering into the wall about to perform your greatest ever tumble turn. Someone who’s been waiting at the end of the lane for your entire length chooses that moment to push off ahead of you. It’s 100% guaranteed that they’ll be slower than you, so you spend the next 20m going at half the pace you were before, or twice the pace in order to get past them.
3. Mind the gap
You all set off on reps and the coach tells you to leave 5secs between swimmers. Within 15m the person behind is on your toes so you think, ‘Blimey they’re going well’. They aren’t, they just left two seconds instead of five before hurtling after you to get on your toes. My friend Anthony, a man who looks like he drops dead eight times a day, is a devil for doing this and is incapable of counting to five, which is worrying as he’s a banker.
4. Premature ejection
You’re told by the coach to go ‘Red Top’ on the clock for a 100m sprint. The second arm sweeps round, 5, 4, 3, 2… and boom! The person in the next lane is off 2secs early. You, not wanting to lose, sprint to catch them and end up going so hard you emerge from the water looking like a melting waxwork. At the end the coach shouts everyone’s rep times but doesn’t add the extra seconds they pinched, and they ‘beat’ you by three-hundredths of a second.
5. Comedy sprint
Over the course of 400m you’ve been reeling in the person in the next lane and are about to lap them. As you draw level, they suddenly increase their pace. So you increase yours. So they increase theirs. And before you know it you’re in an Olympic-paced death match, even though two ponderous swimmers racing has all the sporting spectacle of a Tuesday night match between Aston Villa and Middlesbrough.
6. Stuck in the middle with you
You’re swimming close to the lane rope, being considerate to other swimmers. But one person in your lane swims down the middle, either clattering your hand with theirs or making you clatter the lane rope. They’re unaware of their lane hogging but you think they should know better, so rather than say anything you spend endless lengths trying to clump them as you pass.
Anyway, the fact that all of the above annoy me is a clear indication that, after a winter of being confined to doing endless lengths in a pool, I need to get outside and feel the open water, where no one can do anything to annoy me. Except tap my toes. Grrrrr!