Let me preface this by making it clear that I am not, by any means, a svelte or accomplished swimmer, nor have I ever been. Strong perhaps, once upon a time, but certainly not accomplished.
I have been swimming, for the last month or so, twice or three times a week at Brixton Rec. I like it because it's cheap and close to home, and on the way home from work so I can stop off and swim at the end of the day without going out of my way.
It does, however, have its drawbacks.
People, as it turns out, have quite extraordinary ideas about what 'swimming' actually is, and propel themselves through the water in a variety of perfectly remarkable ways.
The Kickers - sometimes you get the kickers. Despite the pool being divided into four (slow, medium and fast lanes, and free swimming), the kickers will always situate themselves in the slow lane and then swim as fast as they possibly can. They won't achieve a great speed, but they will kick. Wildly. Their legs flail as far in and out of the water as they can possibly get them; they won't look where they're going, or who is beside or in front of them; they will splash as hard as they are able so that you have to swim through fizz and are in grave danger of a broken nose.
The Snails and the Speedys - these are the ones who appear to have absolutely no idea of the speed of their swimming. The snails are so slow that, even in the slow lane, you are forced to stop every 3 strokes and back-pedal so that you don't swim into their feet. The speedys like to demonstrate that they *could* be in one of the other lanes if they desired, but that wouldn't allow them to show off, so instead they bat everyone aggressively in the slow lane out of the way as they power up and down the pool.
Then you get the Rollers - these are the first of the truly remarkable swimmers. They have mastered breast stroke (though usually without 'proper' breathing), and once upon a time, someone introduced them to the idea that there is a breathing technique to accompany front crawl. At some point, however, the 'technique' part, got lost in translation and so these incredible swimmers roll. With each intake of breath, their entire torso and their thighs turn over completely, to face the ceiling. What is really astonishing though, is that they proceed to roll back round, and then take the next breath on the other side, so that as they swim they rock from side to side to side through the water. This is usually accompanied by strenuous gasping and the arms flailing.
The Windmills, as you might imagine, are people with dubious front crawl motions. They usually keep their heads unnaturally raised up out of they water, and move their arms like someone put a splint at the elbow. They move a lot like six year olds, who have just progressed past doggy paddle, and their arms slap the water in such a way that it looks a lot like a belly-flop.
Finally, we have the incredible Doggy-breast-stroke-crawl. These specimens amalgamate all strokes into one bumbling disaster. On Saturday night, for example, the gentleman in question, had combined the breast stroke and front crawl leg action into something which was half frog-leg and half kick. His hands, meanwhile, worked in tandem to pull the water like doggy paddle from immediately in front of him, down, and out like breast stroke. I did not know it was possible to swim that slowly.