Descending into the MTR, most commuters know what to do – stand on the right-hand side of the escalator so the walkers can hurry by on the left. It’s an unspoken rule that almost everyone abides by. When it comes to public swimming pools, however, no such etiquette seems to exist. Instead there’s chaos, even in the swimming lanes, which is infuriating for avid swimmers such as myself who use the pool to de-stress.
There is a simple rule: swim on the left side of the lane and be aware of how fast people are swimming behind you; if they are faster, let them pass. How hard is that to remember? It’s even signposted at the edge of the pool for everyone’s convenience. Clearly nobody reads it and, even worse, lifeguards can’t be bothered to enforce the rule.
As a result, I’ve had to fend for myself when dealing with swimmers – mostly men – who think they can swim as fast as I can and insist on not yielding. In order not to swim at a snail’s pace, I have to expend extra energy to pass them when no one is swimming in the opposite direction on the right. Even when I pass a swimmer more than once, they often still insist on not letting me by. The male ego seems to bruise easily in the water … but perhaps that’s a topic for another day.
On one recent occasion, a man who swam like an uncoordinated frog was so slow that all the other swimmers had to repeatedly pass him. On another, a grandma chose a busy swimming lane as the place in which to practise her backstroke – hello! You’re holding up traffic here!
Could the Leisure and Cultural Services Department not install two lanes, one fast and one slow?
It’s gotten so bad that I have resorted to swimming on Sunday evenings in Kennedy Town before the pool closes, when it is quiet. I usually choose the smaller 25-metre pool to swim in as children’s lessons are over by then, but things don’t always go to plan.
Recently, a father was being chased around this pool (which has no lanes) by his children, and that’s fine – but not where I’m swimming, please! It’s quite obvious I am swimming laps by the edge of the pool, but no, the father intrudes into my invisible lane. His children swim in front of me without looking where they are going and I have to angrily ask the father, “Excuse me?” – twice.
Why is it that everyone knows what to do on the MTR, yet pool etiquette is non-existent. Perhaps people should be quizzed before being allowed to enter. And how about enforcing the rules?