I don’t think I’m just speaking for myself when I say this: Those of us who swim tend to favor having our own lane. Most of the time, this works out, at least the times and places I go.
When you run, you don’t need to think about that. You see someone approaching on the sidewalk, and just move a little to the right till you’ve passed each other. It doesn’t take much thought, and probably only happens once or twice a week.
This morning, when I peered through the window at the pool on my way to the dressing room, each lane looked taken. Two lanes though, were occupied by two women who were getting in a across-the-rope visit before their water-aerobics class began at 9. I thought maybe if I asked, one would move over so I could swim my laps.
By the time I put on my swim suit and made it to the pool, the women were indeed in one lane. A lap swimmer was in each of the other three lanes. I recognized a man in the far lane and even remembered his name. Jim’s a nice fellow, and though he’d have to rein in his arms a bit so as not to bop me in the face, I decided to ask if he’d share.
I hesitated though. You just don’t want to interrupt someone’s swim to ask something that can be sort of irritating. So while I stood there, the woman next to the water-aerobics classmates stopped.
“Do you want to share?” she asked.
“Sure!” I said. “Thank you!”
She had a really pretty stroke, plus she was so easy to swim with. We each stayed on our side of the black line dividing the lane, and we never came close to colliding. I finished feeling good, without that stresed-out, playing-defense sensation that can come with lane-sharing.
We ended up walking out together. I told her I had noticed her walking into the gym because of her bright orange flip-flops, which I love. She said, “Dollar Store!” and we both laughed.
Turns out she’s a Spanish teacher on her first week of summer break. The last couple of weeks have been so busy, she said, that she’s had no time to work out. Plus, her students were bringing in junk food (which they were more than happy to share) to sustain them during final exams. So she’s planning to use the next couple of weeks to get back in shape before doing some traveling.
We parted ways, each expressing hope we’ll see each other again.
Meanwhile, for chance encounters…for people who share…for a reminder to move over and offer half a lane when I see a fellow swimmer waiting…The Grateful Runner says thank you.