Good and Bad in a Crowded Pool

Ragen SwimmingFirst of all, thanks to everyone who responded to my post asking for questions – you’ll see the answers in blog posts coming up, if you have a question feel free to ask!  On to today’s post:

I workout late at night so usually I’m the only one in the pool at my gym.  Occasionally that’s not the case, and my last swim was definitely one of those nights. I walked into the pool to see a bunch of people in the hot tub, two guys in swim caps and goggles horsing around in one lane, a serious swimmer doing laps in another lane, and a girl learning to swim while a guy (who I later learned was her boyfriend) stood on the edge of the pool shouting “PULL!  PULL!”

The only lane open was between the lap swimmer and the two dudes horsing around.  I got in and moved to the lane.  I’ve chosen Total Immersion style swimming and so I start every swim with some drills that probably look a little silly to those who don’t know TI.  “Supermans,”  “Skating” etc. I used to be a little self-conscious about this when other people were around but it’s amazing how much training for this IM is lowering my fear of looking like an ass in public.

So I get through the 20 minutes of drill and stroke practice, and start on the day’s swim – 12 laps of 144m (my gym pool is 18m long so this constitutes 4 lengths)  working on being a little faster than my “all day effort” time, and then a 72 meter cool down. I like these less than when I’m just swimming for distance and time because I have to mess with counting laps, timing my rest etc.

So I start swimming and on my second lap I realize that the two dudes who were horsing around are now posted up in the middle of the lane, and when I go by them and turn my head to breathe, they moo at me.

I think that I must be mistaken, but I go by on the next lap and it happens again except now one of them is mooing at me above water and the other is underwater and seems to be mooing as well, or at least screaming something.  Charming. I decide that there probably isn’t much sense in talking to them (people who moo at fat people clearly not being armed for a battle of wits or a meaningful discussion.)

The lap swimmer is gone and I momentarily wonder if the girl and her boyfriend can hear them but she’s struggling to stay above water, he’s still screaming “PULL PULL” so I imagine that they are pretty focused on what they are doing – the dudes aren’t being loud about it, just loud enough so I can hear them.  I’m also not about to mess up my lap time goals for these jerks so I just keep swimming.  I take my next rest break and they get out of the pool and head to the locker room.  Even if I wanted to complain about them I couldn’t identify them.

As I was finishing getting dressed the girl from the pool came into the locker room.  She looked at me and seemed to hesitate for a moment, then said “You looked so good swimming!”

I said thanks and she told me that she is just learning and asked her boyfriend, who is teaching her, if she would ever be able to swim like me.  That took me a bit aback.  As a dancer people used to say things like that to me, but one of the things that I resigned myself to in the IM training is that those kinds of compliments wouldn’t really be happening anymore. We chatted a bit more, I told her the compliment had made my day, and then we parted ways.

What I didn’t tell her about was the moo-ing incident and how she had restored my faith in humanity. I don’t always blog about the bullshit that I deal with because I fear that it might discourage others from trying.  But I do think it’s important to talk about the ways that fatphobia is showing up on my IM journey, and important to be clear that it will not stop me, and that a big part of my activism is to just show up and refuse to leave and I hope that I can help other fat people decide to do the same. I have a long road ahead of me, I’ll meet more haters and I’ll meet more supporters and regardless of the numbers of either, the support will always outweigh the hate.

More Cool Stuff:

If you have questions about my IRONMAN journey  the FAQ might help!

If you’re looking for a place to talk about fitness from a weight neutral perspective, check out the Fit Fatties Forum. and the Fit Fatties Facebook page.

Book Me!  I’m a professional speaker and I’d love to speak to your organization. You can get more information on topics, previous engagements and reviews here or just e-mail me at ragen at danceswithfat dot org!

Buy my book:  Fat:  The Owner’s Manual  The E-Book is Name Your Own Price! Click here for details

About danceswithfat

Hi, I’m Ragen Chastain. Speaker, Writer, Dancer, Choreographer, Marathoner, Soon to be IRONMAN, Activist, Fat Person.
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11 Responses to Good and Bad in a Crowded Pool

  1. Stacy says:

    I’m not ashamed to say this made me cry. It’s wonderful that that girl took the time to let you know how impressed she is with your swimming skills. God Bless Her! It’s people like that that put the “Mooers” in perspective and really helps shrug off THOSE kinds of people.

    God Bless you too, Ragen, your blog is a daily inspiration to me and every time I come here it makes my day brighter. Both your blogs and all the work you do are a real blessing to many of us! THANK YOU, with all my heart, you lovely woman you!

    Liked by 3 people

  2. GratefulGran says:

    God, I am so sorry this happened to you. I swim at a local college, and there is usually a mix of students and people like me (older and younger) who swim for exercise or whatever reason. I often wonder if I’m going to have an encounter like that, but happily, I haven’t yet, and I’ve been swimming there off and on for several years. I hope that your lack of response will get the message across and that you won’t have any more of such stupidity.


  3. ebay313 says:

    I wish I was near your gym! The only time I had access to a gym with a pool I almost never went swimming only because finding even available lane seemed impossible. The only time I did would be showing up before the pool opened and hoping I was one of the first people there- which still only worked occasionally.


  4. speedo says:

    On behalf of swimmers everywhere, allow me to apologise for the absolutely terrible behaviour of those brain dead idiots. I have seen those kinds of people at a pool before, though extremely rarely.
    Swimming is very much a mental sport, and motivation to train is difficult to get. Having idiots discourage you is the last thing you need! Do not feel ashamed to bring it up with the lifeguard, who should be happy to help. Up to you.
    Whatever you do, I find you very courageous. I find motivation hard to get sometimes, and even though I have years of swimming, I am not brave enough to sign myself up for a triathlon and train.
    Keep at it, we all believe in you!

    Liked by 5 people

  5. When people do things like that to me, I start counting how many more laps I can do than them. Let’s see while they’ve been messing around doing nothing, I’ve done 8 laps…

    Liked by 1 person

  6. lsstrout says:

    Woot for you for maintaining focus! Woot for that girl who is learning to swim and who took the time to tell you she admired you!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I am so sorry that happened to you (the moo-ing part) and I just want to say how much I admire the courage you demonstrate in simply going out and showing up in the world and doing your thing despite the abuse that is hurled your way. I hope one day we’ll live in a world where such courage won’t be necessary because there would be no threat of oppression, bullying, ridicule, etc. As a side note, I’m willing to bet that the moo-ers are the same type of people that claim “if fat people would just exercise more and eat less they wouldn’t be fat.” Yet they make it an unsafe environment when they do see a fat person exercising. Just speculation there but it wouldn’t surprise me!

    Liked by 2 people

  8. lizzyr says:

    You rock, and I am so sorry you had to deal with this. I swim too, and in the back of mind is always the worry that I will have to deal with the comments and nonsense that you experienced. But I keep showing up too!! In the immortal words of Dory…“just keep swimming“.

    Liked by 3 people

  9. Carol C says:

    That is a wonderful story. Sometimes people are there just to lift your spirits.


  10. Wow, I totally thought this post was about something completely different (like too many swimmers in a lane, giving you an opportunity to practice open-water simulations of drafting other swimmers to keep your pace) and I am always caught off-guard by people’s hatefulness and assholishness. I’m glad you are assertive and strong in that you’ve witnessed enough awful behaviour to develop a thick skin and keep doing your thing in the face of complete bullshit fuckwaddery, but I’m also glad for the reminders like the learning-to-swim woman, who see you for who you really are.

    To me, you’ve already won this IM (and the Internet).


  11. Jon Niehof says:

    In this corner, we have someone knocking out her workout. In the other corner, we have somebody standing around with the extra time to mock somebody. If for some reason we thought it was a good idea to play Gatekeeper of Athleticism (probably not), who’s the winner here? (Late reply; discovered your blog just recently and this just…yeah. Had to comment.)

    TI worked poorly for me (although maybe the year of messing with it laid a foundation that paid off when I went to more conventional instruction?), but man, the style of swimming it encourages is gorgeous.


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