Once upon a time when my butt lived further north and I thought that shoes were something you wore for fine dining, I was a lifeguard. That means that I have spent an inordinate amount of time in pools. But I’ve spent an even greater amount of time watching people in water, specifically older people.
For three summers I sat next to pools in condo complexes and in between slathering approximately 16 litres of sunscreen on my skin, I catalogued the patrons’ behaviours.
The Three Main Types of Adult Pool Swimmers
The Noodle Group
Age: Mid forties to approximately three thousand and a half years old
Bathing Suit: A one piece with something to cover their hair for women. The men generally sport long trunks and enough gray chest hair to make a sizeable throw rug.
Swim Style: Don’t be fooled by their polka dot flotation devices, these people are not here to have fun. In fact if hit by a rogue splash from a nearby game they will start talking about the “good ol’ days” when the strap was used and you could openly shout at someone else’s children. The Noodle Group’s favourite thing to do is stand in the pool for hours on end. This is not so much a way of swimming as a way of creating human shaped obstacles for the next group of swimmers because the Noodle Group must always stand in the very centre of the pool.
The Getting In Shape For Their Vacation Crowd
Age: Anywhere from thirty to late forties
Bathing Suit: Any type of suits, these fitness minded people can be recognized by the presence of their Gatorade bottle and the way they swagger onto the deck as though they are going to “own” the water.
Swim Style: Their swim begins with a dive despite the many signs posted in the area dictating “Shallow Water, NO Diving”. After surfacing and a short chat with the lifeguard The Getting In Shape Crowd take off from the wall like they’re in a high speed chase. Once this crowd reaches the opposite side of the pool they pop their heads out of the water and take a loud, deep breath as though an invisible assailant had just stopped choking them. This routine continues for approximately five lengths at which point The Getting In Shape Crowd will rest their elbows on the wall and smugly watch The Noodle Group stand around. The previous performance will be repeated two to four times at which point The Getting In Shape Crowd will climb out of the pool and ask the lifeguard for the time. Without fail they will always be stunned at how little time has passed since they got into the pool. Regardless, after mentally patting themselves on the back they’ll call it a day.
Genuine, Bonafide Swimmers
Age: Twenties to thirties. Actually I have no idea, I’ve never seen one of these people.
Bathing Suit: According to lifeguard lore these athletes appear in Speedos or an equally high quality swimsuit company brand.
Swim Style: They jump into the pool, swim at a confident, even speed around the Noodle Group and the erratic Getting In Shape Crowd. The Genuine Swimmers continue this way for quite some time and then leave the pool area in a flash of terry cloth and Coppertone SPF 30. In the world of condo pool lifeguarding these swimmers are like Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny; you just have to believe they exist.
As much joy as I took from watching the various kinds of swimmers the purpose of my job was to watch for the types of drowners. I will be covering some of those in an upcoming post.