Monday, March 29, 2010

Ridge Park swimming blues

Swimming at Ridge Park has been a really hit or miss experience for me. Some of my fellow swimmers are really great about sharing the lane and communicating in a polite way to make it a better experience. They can be a pleasure to swim with. Others prefer to blast everyone else out of the pool, with their loud rude voices, by crashing into other people, and/or doing everything they can think of to make other people in the lane feel unwelcome.

For those of you who haven't been there, the Ridge Park pool is a very nice one, but it's a little too popular. It's not unusual to have 4-5 swimmers sharing each lane designated for lap swimming. Depending on who is at the pool during any given session, people are usually somewhat flexible about use of the outer lanes. Not today. The two center lanes had 4-5 lap swimmers for most of the time I was there, swimmers much faster than me. Lane 4 was full of old ladies when I first arrived. In my last 5 minutes in the pool, 3 people came to lounge or exercise in lane 1, where I had been doing slow lap swimming with one other person. In spite of the fact that nearly all the old ladies in lane 4 had left, so it was now almost empty, the 3 new arrivals in lane 1 insisted in blocking the entire width of lane and would not share with slow lap swimming. I tried asking nicely more than once, but one loudmouth bitch flopped in the middle of the lane and would not move.

I tried talking to a lifeguard about the problem, and she kept pointing back to the 2 center lanes, which are rarely enough for all the lap swimmers who come to the pool. I explained that to her, and that many who swim fast are extremely rude to those who swim slower and often don't share the lane well. I asked if a 3rd lane could be designated for lap swimming, at least part of the time.

She suggested going to the Ag School (111th near Pulaski) or to Hayes Park (85th & Sacramento). Not a good answer. Ridge Park is 2 blocks from my house. Most of the time I don't have a car available, and each of the pools she suggests is at least 5 miles away.

Why shouldn't my neighborhood park do a better job at accommodating the full range of people who want to use the pool? Why can't we have a 3rd lane for lap swimming, or have a session that is lap swimming only? The way the Ridge Park pool is currently run is a bad experience too often. Not acceptable.

3 comments:

Jack Kilian said...

I overheard a similar story a month or so ago (right around the last time it snowed). The story, as I heard it, was really a commentary on race relations and rudeness. The storyteller and the two conversants were not being racist--they were not disparaging a certain race--but instead were trying to figure out the dynamics of sharing the pool, and race was a variable they brought up. Really interesting.

Fargo said...

When a facility or program is so popular, learning to share in a civil way can be a challenge, especially when all parties aren't working with the same set of rules.

I did not mention it in the posting, but I felt that race may have been a factor in the dynamics of what happened the other day. The woman who insisted on blocking the lane gave the impression that she was making a statement, and that some of it had nothing to do with the pool itself.

I was not making the request to share, or making any assumptions, based on race. I just wanted to share the lane.

Jack Kilian said...

Well said. There were a lot of dynamics in that pool!