Friday, November 12, 2010

Finding a Pool - the life of a triathlete on the move

A triathlete faces many obstacles when moving.  Beyond figuring out how to get one's most prized possession (a tri bike) from point A to point B safely, securely and in one glorious piece the triathlete has to figure out where the heck to work out in their new city.  Finding running and cycling routes is one thing; finding a new pool is a completely different story.

I became somewhat spoiled having UVA's pool as my body of water to train in for the past two years.  Having top notch division 1 facilities, a clean locker room; a wall of windows and enough lanes to satisfy all the bike commuters in San Francisco.  The luxury of having that pool for 2 years has left it hard for me to be satisfied of another pool to train in.  Thus far I'm up to trying out three pools in SF and researching about 5 others.

Each pool has had a really interesting draw back:

  • the first was USFs' pool - nice enough, a good amount of lanes, kind of weird because there is no shallow end so during rest periods you have to hold onto the wall for dear life.  The big kicker at this place is to join I have to "try out" for the masters team.  I'm not worried about the try out but am just kind of annoyed by the fact that I have to be "approved" to swim in the pool so I don't have to spend $15 every time I show up.
  • the second was UCSF's Mission Bay Pool.  Really nice facilities although kind of confusing to navigate.  I can join this as a "neighbor" because my apartment is near their other campus.  However the big challenge here is that the pool is on the roof - outside.  An outside pool is awesome somewhere like oh I don't know Miami, but San Francisco gets freaking cold and is wet, ALOT.  Swimming outside in the rain in 50 degree temperatures isn't my idea of a good time.  If this pool had a tent over it or something it would be a great option.
  • Now last night's fiasco.  I was real excited to find a Y 2 miles away from my apartment with awesome hours.  Their website said the pool had 8 lanes (4 split in 2s) and while Ys aren't glamorous they normally get the job done.  I got to the pool last night to swim, each lane was marked for speed, Fast, Medium Fast, Medium and Slow.  Looking over the swimmers in each lane I opted for the fast lane - with 3 other swimmers.  I'm not a huge fan of circle swimming to begin with; if everyone is doing the same workout it's great; it's pretty awful if there are individual agendas going on.  
 To continue.... two of the people in the lane were wearing paddles, one of the swimmers with paddles had a weird tube around his feet that was kind of like a pull buoy but seemed way more bouant and then there was the woman....  I should have known this woman would be a disaster when I arrived at the pool and the lifeguard tried to explain something to her.  So I hop in the pool as the woman continues to just stand in the middle of the lane.  Finally I push off the wall and go to swim; when I returned to the starting wall the woman was still standing in the middle of the lane.  After my next 100 she had finally crossed the length of the pool and stopped in the adjacent half lane (i.e., the one you would kick off from during circle swim) when I asked her, "do you have any idea how to circle swim?"  I know, I know but I was frustrated.

She continued to do bizzare things including just swimming a very slow breast stroke which continued to clog the other 3 of us.  Finally she left to go to the medium slow lane.  Since she continued to clog up the lane the other 3 of us came dangerously close to hitting into each other during the push offs from the wall; at least I thought that was her causing all of it.  But no..... as I continued to try and circle swim one of the swimmers with the paddles would stop every 50 yards and instead of getting to the corner that would give the rest of us more room he would stop short of the wall and kind of take up both 1/2 lanes.  This caused me to almost hit into the dude with the inner tube thing 3 times.  And at one point as the paddle guy was walking between lanes I pushed off the wall directly into him, fun. 

Then inner tube guy had his son also wearing an inner tube on his feet join him in the fast lane.  They decided that chatting along the wall taking up an entire 5 yards of a half lane was ok as they allowed their inner tube feet to float to the surface.  Concurrently paddle guy was standing in the other half lane doing absolutley nothing so as I returned to the wall I literally had no where to push off of or touch.  At that point I had, had enough jumped out of the pool, packed up and went home.  The Stonestown Y will not be my pool of choice.

As it stands now it looks like I'll have to get over my annoyance and try out for the Masters team.  Either that or get over my fear of sharks and swim at Chrissy Field for free year round (although the rain and cold thing would put a damper on that).  Oh the joys of a moving triathlete.

1 comment:

Anne said...

just go to St. I's or USF! You have moved to a triathlete mecca--there is no shortage of options!
If you have a masters pass at USF you can also just swim in an open lane and it's a huge pool so there's usually something open.
St. I's also has open lap swimming times but check the schedule first.
And you would be glad that USF requires at least a minimal review to keep out people who stand up in the middle of the lanes.
And Bakar pool is nice.. the weather is usually nicer in that area of town. It's just a hassle to get to, unless you work close by.