Swimming & Bigotry

I recently learned to swim, so I practice a lot at my local park district pool.  My neighborhood has quite a few gyms, most fancy, so if you are swimming at the pool you are probably poor, dorky, or taking a swim class.  There’s pretty limited times to lap swim, so I’ve started to know the types of people who use it and now I judge them for your enjoyment.

Gay Swim Models–This is the most obvious group.  They all look like what you would expect in a Speedo catalog and they all swim exceedingly well.  They wear fancy brand name gear.  They’re there because there’s a water polo team at the pool they all belong to.  They are always in the fast lanes.  Sometimes they stare intently in my direction and then I realize they are looking at the GIANT timer clock behind me because they are Serious Swimmers who time their laps.  They do not talk or mingle. The gym borders Boystown, so this is the obvious group I would expect.

Older Latina Ladies–They swim about as well as I do, but they’re there very dilligently.  Often they say nice things about me to each other (in Spanish) but they look very gruff.  They never ever do laps, but do sort of aerobic-y things sort of in my way.  I assume they come from neighboring Buena Park?

20-30something Indian People–My class is overwhelmingly Indian, and basically the stereotype the Indian people in my class have told me is that Indian people can’t swim.  I love learning a totally new stereotype. Indian men are almost never in my lane and Indian girls (usually like, 19) have no idea how lane traffic works.  I assume they all live not far away in the Indian neighborhood.

White Ladies around 40–Always polite & non-descript. Chatty.  Pretty competent and good at lane traffic.  Often they use fins or other fitness swimming accoutrement I have no idea how to use.  I never see these ladies anywhere in my neighborhood.

Old White Dudes–I hate them!  They totally do not use lanes.  They don’t follow traffic.  They mosey all over the place and if you are swimming through they act extremely put upon to move their lazy asses out of your way.  I don’t care if you’re chilling in the designated area but seriously pull over.  It’s a large mystery where these men are from because I never see them outside the pool.

The subset of this is CREEPY Old White Dudes.  There’s one who I call (in my head) Pool Gacy.  Pool Gacy looks like a hippie gray longhair version of John Wayne Gacy.  He does weird circuits of water aerobics, swimming, walking in the water, lunges, standing in the middle of the pool absentmindedly and CREEPY STARING.  And he recently added backwards walking to his repertoire.  His (and my) favorite move is sudden random jumping up and down in the water as if he was on a pogo stick.  You’ll be swimming along behind Pool Gacy only to have him stop DEAD CENTER in the lane (in both directions) to jump up and down like he’s at a ska concert.  At some point he figures out that he’s a total hazard and he’ll move into lunges.  Then I swim through, and on the way back he just goes to the side to lean back and observe my swimming.  Ew, Pool Gacy.  Ew.  Today PG was being such a creeper a dude left the lane.  He seems utterly unaware of the idea of lanes or traffic.

I try to imagine Pool Gacy’s life outside of the gym.  Both JW Gacy and Jeff Dahmer were frequenters of my neighborhood, so I seriously don’t think I am far off.  I’ve never caught PG in full clothes after swimming.  I considered taking photos, but I am so bad at swimming I didn’t think my karma could take it. Clearly one of the good swimmers is totally blogging about what a spaz I am right now.


  1. Heidi says:

    I like this kind of categorizing as you may know.

    The Indians are often the ones that drown in the Gulf here too, and even the news headlines talk about how they can’t swim. Furthering the details of the stereotype, their home country is quite overcrowded and apparently they aren’t very good at being far away from other people, which explains the terrible driving here, and probably the issues with bad pool lane behavior too. I’m sure they have a consciousness about men and women not being in the same lanes either, very gender-divided, they are.

    In our building we used to have an older Indian man who would come up and swim in his tighty whiteys. He would stand on the side of the pool and stretch his back and smile at anybody around, and I could only think, but you are in your UNDERPANTS.

    I am also creeped out by your pool Gacy.

  2. Elizabeth says:

    When I swam at IMPE, my pool nemesis was nicknamed She Who Doesn’t Move: an elderly woman who “swam” at a glacially slow pace and wasn’t adept at lane sharing. I wasn’t a particularly fast or competent swimmer myself, but I still dreaded being stuck behind her.

  3. jennybento says:

    Heidi, my experience living in an Indian hood in Queens would also speak to the fact that getting out of the way is not a cultural thing for them. It was totally polite to physically hit them and move on–that’s how you tell someone you want to get by.

  4. Grace says:

    This post rules. I have oddly similar journal entries from when I was a lifeguard. Do you remember me telling you about The Floater?

  5. ken says:

    at our pool we have the thrasher … an older gentlemen who violently jerks in the water making almost no forward progress .. passing him is extremely hazardous … the side effects of all this thrashing on the thrasher are highly developed muscles and probably 2% body fat. he is the psychotic version of jack lalanne .. inefficiency apparently is an effective training model.

  6. jennybento says:

    Grace we have a floater lane, which i enjoy but no one floats in.

    I am glad everyone else judges people.

  7. MarkMcD says:

    As an old white dude (52), I promise that I stay in the lanes when lanes are put up. Forgive me, but I may stare. Just frown at me, and I will remember to go look for my kids.

  8. jennybento says:

    these old white dudes are generally 65+. but thanks for observing lane traffic!

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