Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Pool Stories 1 - The Twilight Zone

My pool (YWCA downtown) is closed for three months so I’m experimenting with finding another pool that’s convenient. A little frustrating to deal with mid-season, but I’ve decided I’m taking a tour of the Vancouver Rec Centres.

First Stop – The Twilight Zone
On Monday, my first YWCA-less day. That morning it seemed I was traveling through another dimension, a dimension not only of sight and sound but of mind. A journey into a wondrous land of imagination. Next stop, Percy Norman Pool!

The pool opened at 6:15 and, as usual, I messed up my bus timing and got there ridiculously early. Walking in I was dismayed to see a crowd already waiting. Even more dismaying, none of them looked like speedy swimmers. I seemd to have hit the seniors swim and was upset that I’d likely spend my entire time stuck behind geriatric breast strokers.

As I was thinking these thoughts, I noticed something weird. Seriously weird. These people were happy. Cheerful. Smiling. Chatty. They seemed to know each other well and all said good morning (in one of at least three languages). When the staff member showed up they asked about her vacation and teased her about her tan.

In the change room there was no glowering over bench space, people moved aside to let me in and smiled. Smiled! Did I mention it was 6:15? In the morning?

On deck it got even stranger. While I was looking for somewhere to drop my towel the lifeguard approached and asked if I was new to the pool. She gave me the goods on everything (dive tank, slow to fast lanes, no flags so be careful with backstroke) and told me to come to her if I had any issues or questions. Proactive lifeguards - what universe is this?

The lanes weren’t as slow as I expected but I was still continuously passing all but one person in the fast lane. However, there was plenty of space to pass and the slow swimmers would stop at the wall and let me by, even the men (at the YWCA, a woman passing a male swimmer is generally viewed as an attack on his virility).

I couldn't get in as long as swim as I would have liked as I had to get to work (couldn't they just pay me for not showing up??), less than an hour of swim time but about an hour of commuting doesn't quite add up to a good morning workout location. Hopefully when the new pool opens someone will start a masters class that begins earlier in the day.

My conclusion: a pool full of happy, chatty, cheerful swimmers and staff early in the morning – quite possibly the strangest swimming experience I’ve ever had. Not sure if I'll back before the new pool opens, however, as the location unfortunately doesn't quite work.

Next up - Vancouver Aquatic Centre.

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