The Motley Crew I Swim With

I am a people watcher. Always have been; always will be. There’s just something I love about seeking out the oddities and uniqueness in people. Back in the day, I used to love to go to the mall on Christmas Eve afternoon – not to shop, but to people watch. I’d grab a Starbucks and just hang out on one of those benches in the middle of the mall and watch the guys (mostly) go nuts as they tried to finish their shopping before the mall closed. It was a total riot!

Today, airports have replaced malls as my favorite people watching place – but I find that I do it almost everywhere I go. I’m constantly pointing people out to my wife or kids. I’m sure it annoys them to no end, but it helps me pass the time.

This month, I’ve been doing a lot of swimming. In fact, I take my son to swim practice most mornings, and then hop in the pool and swim myself before going to work. This strategy has worked wonders for my swim training, as summertime in Florida is usually a little sketchy for afternoon swimming – you know, with thunderstorms happening every afternoon almost. So anyway, I’ve found that I can’t escape my tendency to do a little people watching even when I’m at swim practice.

I thought you might like a little virtual peek into the folks I swim with (and, no, there are no photographs…sorry). Now first and foremost, I’m not going to comment on the high school kids on the swim team. Firstly, it’d be a little creepy and secondly, most of the guys are bigger and faster than me, so I’m a little scared of them. But the adults? That’s another story…

There seems to be a handful of folks that come and go each day.  A few of them only come once every now and then, but there are a few who are “regulars” and are there every day or follow a schedule (like every Monday, Wednesday and Friday).  I mostly pay attention to the regulars…or at least I remember them.  And so, here they are: the motley crew I swim with:
Thunder Kicker:  This guy could actually go by a couple of names, but this one booms loudest (see what I did there?).  This fellow is a local triathlete, and he puts in a ton of yards.  He’s pretty quick, too.  Perhaps it’s because of his huge, water-splashing, thunderous kicks.  He’s a knee-kicker (versus from the hip like you’re supposed to do), and each time he kicks with one of his legs – I think his left – he brings his foot seemingly 6 inches out of the water and then aggressively drives it down.  His kick literally sounds like a fat kid doing a cannonball.  BOOM!  BOOM!  BOOM!  It’s so loud that I can hear it two lanes over.  This guy also goes by the name Skunk-Man, as his hair coloring makes him look just like a skunk.  He’s got really dark hair on the side of his head, but a stripe of grey hair doing right down the center of his head.  He seriously looks just like a skunk.  Hopefully he doesn’t have a stinky spray to go with that look.

Chewbacca in a Speedo:  There’s a guy (he’s a little older than me…maybe early 50’s) who is in great shape and is clearly a good swimmer.  He comes to the pool literally every morning.  I envy his stroke (it’s fantastic), I admire his speed, and I’m awed by his ability to do flip turns.  But….the guy is hairy.  And by hairy, I mean COVERED.  Arms.  Legs,  Back.  Stomach.  Chest.  The dude looks like Chewie.  And he wears a Speedo!  Not to mix movies here, but the guy looks like Teen Wolf in the pool.  It’s a wonder he doesn’t shake himself when he gets out.  Thankfully he doesn’t shed (could you imagine swimming into that hairball)?

Scuba Man:  This may not be the best title for this guy, but I can’t think of a better name.  This guy swims just a couple times per week, and is fairly slow.  Holy cow, this guy loves his toys!  Each time I’ve seen him swim he is decked out in gear from head to toe!  His typical outfit:  board shorts, fins, hand paddles and a Finis snorkel.  He swims in that get-up for at least an hour.  Come to think of it, I don’t know that I’ve ever seen him take his head out of the water – except for when he’s done.

Music Lady:  This lady is Thunder Kicker’s wife (I think).  The sound of his kicks must annoy her, because she is always wearing one of those SwimP3 players with the tunes really cranked up!  She told me today that her current unit is actually her second one, and that she uses it to tune out everything while she swims.  Sort of like wearing an iPod when you run, I guess.  I’ve never swam with one of these, so it might be the best invention of all time.  She loves it.

The Kickboard Twins:  These two ladies are your pretty typical aqua-aerobics types.  The come with matching goggles, matching swim caps, and do the exact same workout as each other (they are partnering to get back into shape – which is really cool).  The entire time they are in the pool, they might actually swim 200 yards.  The rest of the workout is typically some version of kicking.  Flutter kick.  Breaststroke kick.  Sidestroke kick.  Backstroke kick with their head on the kickboard like a pillow.  Back and forth they go…..kicking.

And then there’s me.  I’m the typical triathlete.  I show up with lots of toys.  I may use them all or I may not – but I ALWAYS put them all at the end of the lane.  I have my workout on a card in a ziplock bag.  I carefully Foggle my goggles each morning before I get in.  I always hop in the pool the same way.  My warm-ups are always the same (500 swim and then 250 kick as 5*50).  I always do a little arm stretching after my warm-up.  See, I have my own uniqueness.  I suspect that my motley crew of swim practice mates could come up with a nickname for me, too. 

Probably something like Tri-Guy.  Or Old Baldy.  Or Poseur.  Who knows. 

What about you?  Do you swim with a motley crew?  Any “strange denzions of the pool”?


5 thoughts on “The Motley Crew I Swim With

  1. I swear I swim with a long lost member of the Ramones. Pasty skin and jet black hair that looks like it was cut with a battered Tupperware bowl. Always looks sullen and never says a word to anyone. Just does slow and methodical laps with a kick board and some kind of foam rolls for his hands. I may mock, but he could probably out swim me any day of the week.

  2. The kick board twins made me laugh. The new freshman class coming in, and I’m right on the age cusp where I feel almost creepy noticing them, except for these two girls who can’t be more than 19 and jump in side my side w boards and kick for a solid 45 minutes. And fast, all while holding a regular conversation. It’s the weirdest thing.

  3. There are a few regulars:
    University Swim Cap lady, who probably competed 40 years ago when she was in her twenties; excellent stroke, rather jealous–especially since her belly hangs even farther south than mine
    TriRock-Guy, who instead of using a watch or garmin 910xt like me, at the end of every lap, will stop and move a marble from one tupperware container to another at the end of his lane. Odd.
    Aquabats, the 10-20 silver haired 70+ year olds who pretend to do water aerobics, but mostly just yabber and ignore the instructor
    Hubby, who is adorable in his tri shorts and with whom I try to keep up
    500 Yard Queen, a local lawyer (law firm partner to my golf partner) who has worn the same red suit and cap for 20 years, jumps in, swims maybe 500 yards, then leaves. I’m not sure if she can swim more than 500 yards.
    SurvivorMan, an 80 year old man who walks in a lane, complete with the Auschwitz numbers on his forearms, who willingly shares his lane with anyone happily. I love that dude, such a great perspective on life. And yes, he was actually an Auschwitz survivor.
    There are others, but these immediately pop into my mind.

  4. I see a regular who reminds me of Linda Richman, the Mike Myers character on SNL’s “Coffee Talk.” You’d think all of the makeup and jewelry would weigh her down and make her sink to the bottom!

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