Swimming rage in the ego lane

Mark Rowe investigates poolside aggro

AFTER ROAD rage, here comes swimming rage. Many pool managers are reporting an increase in arguments between swimmers, "heel-tapping", underwater scratching and verbal abuse of lifeguards.

It is thought to be a consequence of increased health awareness, which means that more of us are seeking to relieve the strains of everyday life by turning to swimming.

"Swimming for health has created pressure for lane swimming and caused some conflict," said Ralph Riley, chief executive of the Institute of Sport and Recreation Management, which sets leisure industry standards and qualifications.

It is a point not lost on Maria Lonergan, duty manager at Finchley Lido in north London, where a lifeguard and a learner swimmer are considering legal action after an alleged attack involving a more competent swimmer. The dispute allegedly arose over whether the swimmer could be allowed an extra five minutes in the pool.

"I've been in poolside management for 12 years," said Miss Lonergan. "It has become more aggressive, and it's getting worse.

"People come here to relieve stress but someone cuts them up as happens when you're driving and they get more wound up."

Lifeguards at Finchley are instructed not to get involved in arguments between swimmers but to blow a whistle - the thinking being that, since the adults are behaving like children, they will respond to a playground-style command.

A lifeguard at another London pool said the fast lane was known in the trade as "the ego lane". "We get a scuffle every day in the fast lane," he said. "Some people get in the pool to take out their frustrations, as if they've bought the lane when they bought their ticket."

How you behave when swimming depends on what your goal is in the pool, says Andy Lane , sports psychologist at Brunel University. "If your goal is just to have a swim then you are less likely to get involved in confrontation. But if you have a target, there is a chance you will get frustrated. It depends on what other swimmers are doing whether you achieve that goal."

The problem appears to be that swimming puts people in an unnatural situation. "People feel self-conscious about their bodies or their swimming ability. You are taking part in a public performance but the goal is to swim on your own," said Mr Lane.

"If someone taps you on the feet, it as though they are saying: `Get out of the way, I'm better than you.' That's not nice and is an invasion of personal space."

Primitive species in the water

The Piranha: Vicious middle lane inhabitant. Irritated that not quick enough for fast lane and relieves frustrations by nipping heels and elbows of the unwary.

The Beluga Whale: Floats along languidly in middle lane, causing vast hold-ups and splashing water in all directions.

The Penguin: This unshapely creature waddles ungainly to pool side. In water, however, effortlessly - and infuriatingly - swims past all but the fastest.

The Leopard Seal: Most aggressive species, usually male. Hostile. Wears goggles, cap and nosepin. Will charge over or under those in his path.

The Jellyfish: The slowest water-borne species. Will simply float along, often walking with arms aloft wearing a slightly puzzled expression.

The Sea Horse: Congregate for conversation at the shallow end, forcing you to shorten your length or fight to the lane's end.

More than 90 years of car history are coming to an end with the abolition of the paper car-tax disc
newsThis and other facts you never knew about the paper circle - completely obsolete tomorrow
Kim Jong Un gives field guidance during his inspection of the Korean People's Army (KPA) Naval Unit 167
newsSouth Korean reports suggest rumours of a coup were unfounded
Arts and Entertainment
You could be in the Glastonbury crowd next summer if you follow our tips for bagging tickets this week
Life and Style
It is believed that historically rising rates of alcohol consumption have contributed to the increase
food + drink
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Piers Morgan tells Scots they might not have to suffer living on the same island as him if they vote ‘No’ to Scottish Independence
peopleBroadcaster has a new role bringing 'the big stories that matter' to US
Arts and Entertainment
Kylie performs during her Kiss Me Once tour
musicReview: 26 years on from her first single, the pop princess tries just a bit too hard at London's O2
Life and Style
Moves to regulate e-cigarettes and similar products as medicines come amid increasing evidence of their effectiveness
healthHuge anti-smoking campaign kicks off on Wednesday
Life and Style
fashionEveryone, apparently
The erotic novel Fifty Shades of Grey has already been blamed for a rise in the number of callouts to the fire brigade for people trapped in handcuffs
voicesJustine Elyot: Since Fifty Shades there's no need to be secretive about it — everyone's at it
Arts and Entertainment
A new Banksy entitled 'Art Buff' has appeared in Folkestone, Kent
Arts and Entertainment
Shia LaBeouf is one of Brad Pitt's favourite actors in the world ever, apparently
filmsAn 'eccentric' choice, certainly
Life and Style
An Internet security expert has warned that voice recognition technology needs to be more secure
techExperts warn hackers could control our homes or spend our money simply by speaking
peopleBenjamin Netanyahu trolled by group promoting two-state solution
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Senior Marketing Manager - Central London - £50,000

£40000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (Campaigns, Offlin...

Head of Marketing - Acquisition & Direct Reponse Marketing

£90000 - £135000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Head of Marketing (B2C, Acquisition...

1st Line Service Desk Analyst

£27000 - £30000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client who are...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Birmingham - Huxley Associates

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Huxley Associates are currentl...

Day In a Page

Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

Last chance to see...

The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

Truth behind teens' grumpiness

Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

Hacked photos: the third wave

Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?
Royal Ballet star dubbed 'Charlize Theron in pointe shoes' takes on Manon

Homegrown ballerina is on the rise

Royal Ballet star Melissa Hamilton is about to tackle the role of Manon
Education, eduction, education? Our growing fascination with what really goes on in school

Education, education, education

TV documentaries filmed in classrooms are now a genre in their own right
It’s reasonable to negotiate with the likes of Isis, so why don’t we do it and save lives?

It’s perfectly reasonable to negotiate with villains like Isis

So why don’t we do it and save some lives?
This man just ran a marathon in under 2 hours 3 minutes. Is a 2-hour race in sight?

Is a sub-2-hour race now within sight?

Dennis Kimetto breaks marathon record
We shall not be moved, say Stratford's single parents fighting eviction

Inside the E15 'occupation'

We shall not be moved, say Stratford single parents
Air strikes alone will fail to stop Isis

Air strikes alone will fail to stop Isis

Talks between all touched by the crisis in Syria and Iraq can achieve as much as the Tornadoes, says Patrick Cockburn
Nadhim Zahawi: From a refugee on welfare to the heart of No 10

Nadhim Zahawi: From a refugee on welfare to the heart of No 10

The Tory MP speaks for the first time about the devastating effect of his father's bankruptcy
Witches: A history of misogyny

Witches: A history of misogyny

The sexist abuse that haunts modern life is nothing new: women have been 'trolled' in art for 500 years
Shona Rhimes interview: Meet the most powerful woman in US television

Meet the most powerful woman in US television

Writer and producer of shows like Grey's Anatomy, Shonda Rhimes now has her own evening of primetime TV – but she’s taking it in her stride
'Before They Pass Away': Endangered communities photographed 'like Kate Moss'

Endangered communities photographed 'like Kate Moss'

Jimmy Nelson travelled the world to photograph 35 threatened tribes in an unashamedly glamorous style