Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Lane Rage

This from Sunday's Sydney Morning Herald

LIFEGUARDS are to be trained to handle violent and verbally abusive patrons after an explosion in pool rage at the state's swimming venues.

The Royal Life Saving Society of NSW, which trains 3000 pool lifeguards a year, said it planned to introduce conflict resolution instruction in its courses next year.

The society's aquatic and safety services manager Grant Davis said the move was in response to a national survey of pool managers that showed most guards were verbally abused on a daily basis and some were being struck by patrons.

Arguments are breaking out among lap swimmers over swimming speeds and lane etiquette, forcing lifeguards to intervene.

"There have been lifeguards physically assaulted," he said. "There have been lifeguards thrown in pools."

Mr Davis said the society had polled 200 pool managers and guards across the country in the past three months to find out what areas of training they wanted boosted.

The overwhelming response was better methods of dealing with pool aggression.

"It's definitely on the rise and lifeguards are having to deal with bad behaviour rather than their main role of supervision," he said.

Mr Davis said one of the causes of aggression towards guards was lane rage incidents between swimmers, which spilled over to involve others.

He said guards were forced to intercede when lap swimmers disagreed about what was an appropriate speed for a lane or bickered over perceived breaches of etiquette. The clashes could turn violent.

"A lot of pools these days are increasing their leisure areas and swimming school areas," Mr Davis said. "This takes away from the lap swimming areas which means people are forced into a smaller area and this brings about pool rage. It's always been an issue but it's becoming more and more common."

As a swimmer I haven't seen above mentioned cases of lane rage. However the "taking away from lap swimming areas" I have seen. Regular aqua aerobics sees a the burly looking aerobic nazi woman barking orders through a clip on amplifier, playing Bon Jovi and bad techno to around twenty people in the pool. Signs on the wall say something along the lines of "During aeobics ecercises the windows in the Swimming centre will be closed. We apologise for inconvenience this has caused.". Three lanes closed.

Summer sees the bringing out a large inflatable jumping castle sort of thing......three or four lanes closed.

School trips take four lanes.

"Squad on some nights takes about 5 lanes leaving three lanes at night.

I usually try to go swimming off peak. It's cheaper and quieter.......I'll often have the whle pool to myself. I haven't had to lane share much and when I do it's usually pretty civilised, suppose it comes with my height people tend to shy away from starting anything!


  • When I was a regular at the pool, some forty years ago, lanes weren't so hard to get. I tried some swimming again a few years ago, and besides being hugely out of shape, the experience, with three to four in a lane, was best described as driving in traffic. Put me right off.

    By Blogger Peter (the other), at 4:10 pm  

  • You gotta be kidding! I have not heard of "pool rage" up this way. I always think of swimmers as a mostly civilized lot and the pools they frequent as quiet, tranquil temples to the aquatic gods. My stepson was a competitive swimmer a few years ago and I went inside a few times to pick him up or watch a swim meet. All were amazingly well behaved, and those were teens. But maybe that has also changed like everything else...

    By Anonymous Winston, at 8:57 pm  

  • Lane rage! Argh! Ran up against it a few years ago when I was trying to get into shape (have since given up), and it is a problem. Fortunately, nobody got their speedos in a twist over it. It was just a pain in the butt.

    By Blogger MaryB, at 2:03 am  

  • I think the story mainly involves those in Sydney city where life is faster, people are a little more self-indulgent and time and quality-of-life(tm)is the new religion.

    So Winston, further out of the suburbs where I am, I think people are a lot more there are less of us to use the pool anyway. Much as with your nephews.

    I tend to sprint one lap, easy on the way back so I'm unsure if I should be in a slow/medium/fast lane BTW.

    Peter, I remember you describing three swimmers up your bum when I did an article some time ago. No such problem here! I'm usually the one in the rear-view mirror.....but I give them half a lap head start so they aren't intimidated. Pluius I've had to share a lane twice in the past six months, which makes it easier.

    And Mary, it's a pity some a**holes had this attitude. I've always got time for people swimming, there's one old guy in his 70's still swimming laps keeping trim!

    By Blogger Johnno, at 9:34 pm  

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