FEATURES,  View from the Water

Isn’t the pool full at the moment?

If you’re a regular pool swimmer (which we know from oursurvey that many open water swimmers also are) you’ll probably have noticed your local is rather more crowded than usual at the moment – at least the three or four I regularly swim in are, and I am somewhat sweepingly assuming the trend extends across the globe.
Christmas excesses followed by New Year resolutions are powerful stimulants driving both lapsed and new swimmers to water. Compare the current situation to December when you could sometimes get a lane, if not half a pool to yourself.
For regular, year-round swimmers the temptation is to curse in January and then sigh with relief once the intruders have lost their initial enthusiasm, discovered sticking to a swimming schedule is tough and returned to their sofas, which usually happens around the second week of February. New Year resolution swimmers are a nuisance for many reasons:

  • They are usually slow
  • They take up a lot more lane space than more experienced swimmers as their arms and legs flail wildly
  • They often swim in the middle of the lane rather than at the edge
  • They are unpredictable – stopping and starting unexpectedly or changing pace (or stroke) in the middle of a length
  • They have little sense of what we somewhat snobbishly call ‘lane etiquette’

But despite this, wouldn’t it be so much better if these New Year resolution swimmers stuck with it? Yes, there is a short-term inconvenience but long-term the benefits of more people swimming could really add up:

  • Greater demand could lead to an expansion of pool opening hours
  • More people joining clubs equals more revenue and possibilities of hiring more pool space
  • Increased demand for coaching services could lead to more jobs in the swimming industry
  • More pool swimmers might become open water swimmers and then become subscribers to our print magazine (a rather selfish one there)
  • More healthy and happy people because they have swimming in their lives

So if you’re a regular swimmer, rather than kicking water in the faces of the New Year resolution intruders, welcome and encourage them. Make them your allies in the lane, not your enemies.
If instead you are one of those New Year swimmers, take heart and persevere. Regular swimmers might seem rude and arrogant when you see them cruising smoothly up and down the pool, splashing you as they go past, hitting your feet before cutting you up and tumble turning within millimetres of your head, but they are usually friendly and helpful when you get to know them. Swimming does get easier the more you do it, and with open water swimming there’s a large portion of the world to explore. If you need something to get you through that difficult period when your initial enthusiasm wanes why not take out a subscription to H2Open? Our next issue, due out at the end of January, is packed full of inspiring stories.


I created Outdoor Swimmer in 2011 (initially as H2Open Magazine) as an outlet for my passion for swimming outdoors. I've been a swimmer and outdoor swimmer for as long as I remember. Swimming has made a huge difference to my life and I want to share its joys and benefits with as many people as possible. I am also the author of Swim Wild & Free: A Practical Guide to Swimming Outdoors 365 a Year.