A woman has said she was left in pain after a man “aggressively” attacked her in a swimming pool in west London for overtaking him.
Dr Josie Perry, a sports psychologist, told The Independent she felt she had inadvertently “prodded” the fellow swimmer’s “ego” by simply swimming around him.
The 44-year-old Londoner said the man grabbed her while she was doing laps at Chiswick Swimming Pool on Monday morning – adding the incident had shaken her up and she had reported it to the police.
Dr Perry, who wears a float to support her swimming due to suffering from a spinal disability, explained the aid flew off during the incident.
She added: “The guy was going a lot slower so I was having to overtake him regularly. As I got to the other end of the lane, I tumble turned underwater and as I tried to come up from under the water, I could not move. Someone had grabbed my ankle aggressively. It hurt for an hour or two afterwards.
“He had sprinted after me to get me after tapping my toes at the other of the pool. He told me that’s what he’d done. It gets worse. When I finally got some air and came up, he admitted he’d grabbed me as it was the only way to communicate he didn’t like I was overtaking. I felt I had prodded his ego.”
Dr Perry said the lifeguard and duty manager got involved with the situation and she said she did not think he should be in the fast lane.
She added: “He was saying he is fast enough to be in the fast lane. He said he would prove it to me. He offered to have a race. He was being very patronising. He kept telling me I was ridiculous.
“You don’t grab people and pull them under a pool. There were two of us swimming fast in the lane. One was male and one was female. The man didn’t get attacked but I did.”
She said she felt anxious and scared about the incident while trying to sleep that night – adding that swimming has been a “nice safe space” in recent months, and she enjoys her 45 minutes swim before her day “kicks off and goes crazy”.
“I don’t want to have to constantly worry about annoying somebody just by being myself,” Dr Perry said. “This is not the first time that’s happened in that pool. Five years ago, I was kicked in the stomach. I asked the guy why and he said I was intimidating and swimming too fast was bullying behaviour. It was the fast lane.”
She said she had been bombarded with stories from hundreds of women who have had similar experiences to her own since posting a statement about the incident on Twitter. An 83-year-old female masters athlete had encountered “similar aggression issues from men” in the pool, Dr Perry added.
“Attacked in the pool this morning for overtaking a fragile male ego,” she said in a post on Twitter.
The Independent has contacted a representative of the Met Police for comment.
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