I had oatmeal and caught a bus to University of Washington (Left is the IMA).
I swam with Aaron in the IMA pool, which is managed by idiots, and which is currently set up in such a way that accidents are imminent. Luckily they havenâ€™t had any major incidents yet, but itâ€™s bound to happen.
Aaron could see the wall because there are no black lines on the bottom and wall is completely white, so he got out to ask if he could put an orange cone on the bottom of the pool. It was such a reasonable request, that I would have probably just done it without asking. There was even an orange cone sitting on the side of the pool for no apparent reason. Aaronâ€™s more diplomatic than me, however, and he went to the office to ask while I continued to warm up. After I had done about 300 yards waiting for Aaron to get back with his cone I gave up and went to see what was taking so long.
The pool manager was responding with all the rehearsed bureaucratic lines he knew (I think his knowledge in this field far surpasses his knowledge in anything else related to his job).
â€œWell, Iâ€™ll have to ask Maintenance about the cone, but in the mean time youâ€™ll just have to be careful.â€ â€œWeâ€™ve been swimming like this since the 60â€™s and nobodyâ€™s been hurtâ€ (yeah right). â€œThis setup was good enough for the good will games.â€ (The good will games were held next door in the Pavilion Pool where the varsity team trains and races. That pool is also quite small, but it has stands and six lanes.) â€œWeâ€™ve always done it like this.â€ (actually, theyâ€™ve always swam double lanes in the same direction as the six black lines on the bottom of the pool â€“ a setup that is already lacking in intelligence â€“ but the double lanes with crooked lane lines going perpendicular-ish to the black lines is definitely new.)
The manager then tried to explain to Aaron that the IMA is a place for inexperienced swimmers to â€œrecreateâ€ and not for athletes to train. â€œJust imagine a single lane with somebody doing side stroke while you swim over the top of them â€“ thatâ€™s sure to cause collisionsâ€. (Iâ€™m going to skip the obvious improbability of a side stroke swimmer being in the fast lane while there are actually fast swimmers)
Aaron started to say something to the effect of â€œAt least with single lanes people can stay near the lane line and each lane will be half as crowded.â€ But I cut him off and said, â€œNo Aaron, heâ€™s right. The public pools in America are simply asking for law suits because they all seem to think that single lanes are safer. It actually turns out that the UW is the among less than a percent of pools that have figured it out and play it safe with double wides.â€ The pool manager completely missed my sarcasm and seemed for a split second to be happy somebody was on his side for a change, so I explained that I was being both condescending and sarcastic (I admit this is not the best way to start a discussion), and that my point was that straying from the norm is not safer, it confuses people not used to that particular pool, makes the lanes more crowded, and provides fewer options for swimmers of various ability levels.
Thatâ€™s when he told me to talk to some other Idiot Manager Guy (IMG), who I told that the double lanes were not my main concern, that it was the perpendicular to normal flow that I thought was most dangerous, and furthermore, if they were going to change the lane lines, they could at least make them straight (one of the lane lines goes about 4 feet diagonally, so the two lanes it separates both go from 8 ft at one end to 12 ft at the other).
â€œJust change the lane lines back to normal when classes arenâ€™t being heldâ€
â€œThat would be a great deal of workâ€
â€œIt would take five minutesâ€
â€œNo really, I could do it by myself in five minutes, do you have a watch?â€
â€œThis is ridiculousâ€
â€œNo, this is the most dangerous pool setup I have ever witnessed and you are just asking for somebody to get hurt.â€
â€œLeave. Donâ€™t swim here. If you donâ€™t think itâ€™s safe, then you can leave.â€
â€œIâ€™m not leaving, Iâ€™m just giving you warning so that you have the opportunity to change something before somebody gets hurt, whether thatâ€™s me or somebody else, if it happens it falls on you.â€
â€œNo, it wonâ€™t be my fault if you choose to stay hereâ€
â€œIt kinda is your responsibility to maintain a safe environmentâ€
He then got frustrated and decided to show his authority to somebody else. He turned to Carrie, who was on the deck showing an aquatic instructor something important.
IMG: â€œYou need to get off the pool deck with you street clothes.â€
Carrie: â€œSheâ€™s with me, Iâ€™m showing her somethingâ€
IMG: â€œCarrie, will you please escort this woman off the pool deckâ€
IMG: (Iâ€™m paraphrasing here because I donâ€™t remember how the rest went and I decided to get in the water anyway.) â€œBecause I canâ€™t seem to win any arguments today and I want to feel powerful and less like the idiot that I am.â€
Aaron never did get his orange cone, and he continued to miss walls for the next 3000 yards before we got out.
He went to have some cute sorority girl read to him while I ran, taught a spin class (it went well, I had to tell stories because apparently I wasnâ€™t talking enough. Hopefully they donâ€™t find out about this blog and I can just repeat stories that I write.), then I ran again, then I went to PT, then I ate a GIGANTIC burrito and then I did a Yoga class and went home. It was an awesome day.
Oh yeah, and I learned nothing from my lesson in diplomacy. Iâ€™m still swimming at the IMA and still colliding with people who are swimming at various degrees of not-straight which are different from my own.