A couple summers ago, I was swimming in the outdoor lap pool at my gym working through the 60-minute workout my coach had laid out for me. About 15-minutes into my workout, I stopped at the wall for my 30-second rest interval and the old man in the lane beside me (who, it appeared, was there to lounge as opposed to swim), began talking to me. He snarkily commented on how I thrashed too much in the water. I told him I knew my stroke and body buoyancy was weak and took off because my rest interval was over.
When I got back to the wall snarktastic started giving me tips on how to improve my stroke and went on to qualify his unsolicited advice with being the father of (and I quote): “a kind of famous guy you may know…Lance Armstrong.” Well, what pops didn’t know, is that I’ve never been a fan of Armstrong and couldn’t care less how he was (or was not) related to him. Impressed I was not. He went on to say something about how “they wouldn’t Lance compete anymore, but when he was growing up, he was a fast athlete in all the sports he participated in.”
….lemme just pause here so y’all can roll your eyes……..
I couldn’t believe he’d fit all that useless information into my short rest interval, but somehow he did. I took off for my next set which I was slated to swim as fast as possible. I got back to the wall and faux-papa-Armstrong told me he’d never seen so much wasted movement and splashing for so little forward motion.
…lemme pause again…to give y'all space and time to imagine what I said back to fakey mcfakerson….
I know it’s hard to believe, but I was cordial, I lightly laughed and said something along the lines of “yeah, my coach is working to make me a more efficient swimmer.” And as he began his “well, when Lance was young…” string of obvious falsehoods, I took off for my next swim interval without a word to him and way before my rest interval was up. I thought that best as I wanted, to holler at him: “STOP TALKING OLD MAN. QUIT LIEING, YOU ARE NOT LANCE ARMSTRONG’S FATHER! AND EVEN IF YOU ARE WHO YOU SAY YOU ARE, THEN MAYBE, JUST MAYBE IF YOU’D SPENT MORE TIME WITH HIM AS A CHILD TEACHING HIM THAT A MAN’S INTEGRITY LIVES ON LONG AFTER HE’S GONE, THEN MAYBE YOUR (FAKE) SON WOULD BE ABLE TO COMPETE RIGHT NOW…BUT THAT’S NEITHER HERE NOR THERE, BECAUSE I DON’T CARE! ALL I WANT IS FOR YOU TO STOP TALKING…NOW!!!!
Over the last couple years as my swim has improved, I’ve received many comments along the way. None as frustrating as pseudo-papa-Armstrong’s, most positive, some negative, and some just way off base.
Last week at the pool, a kind gentleman told me he could tell I was a strong swimmer, but he wanted to make one suggestion. He went on to explain to me in depth why I shouldn’t breathe every other stroke and why I need to learn how to breathe every few strokes and bilaterally. He told me he loved swimming and was training to swim Alcatraz. I smiled and kindly said “thanks, I’ll share your suggestions with my coach.” Not feeling the need to explain to him that swimming Alcatraz and swimming in a triathlon are two different monsters, it’s like comparing apples to hobos. There’s no comparison.
I’ll listen to well-meaning folks and their comments and be kind as I very slowly enunciate in my head: “…..stoooooop talking….” Because for the most part, they took the time to give advice that they believe will help me become a stronger swimmer, and in my opinion, it’s the kind thought that counts. Although if they just stopped talking it’d make me happier and give me less things to complain about.
Last night as I was taking off my swimsuit in the locker room after my swim, a lady asked what I was training for. She said that she is a part of the aquatic staff and sees me in the pool a lot. I told her about my races this season and she told me about the children in her beginning swim class and how she wished they would be able to swim with the confidence and smoothness that she sees when I’m in the pool…now that lady…she can keep talking as long as her heart desires.