The Snake and the psychological effects of training

“There was a guy,” sang Black Francis, “who got killed by 10 million pounds of sludge from New York and New Jersey”, which has nothing to do with swimming except that it’s the song that comes to mind when I have to swim with The Snake.

The Snake is how I mentally describe a triathlete who swims a couple of times a week.

When I started swimming he was faster than me. (Which, when I see him swim now, is amazing to me.)

In over 4 years he hasn’t improved one iota. In fact I occasionally use him to describe to others all the things NOT to do. I offered to help him out a few years ago, as politely as I could, but some guys, well their ego can’t encompass the idea of assisted improvement.

He’s The Snake, because he crosses his centreline so much on every stroke that he can’t see where he’s going as he winds up and down the lane, hitting everyone who has the misfortune to share a lane with him, I’d say 50% of his energy is wasted on lateral movement. Except me. He doesn’t hit me much anymore.

We were talking at last month’s meeting about some of the psychological, shall we say, manifestations, of the heavy training. Eilish was talking about days where we would feel down, or fed-up etc.

And I recalled the day previously, I had been swimming a few hours when The Snake got into the lane. Just to note, that day the rest of the pool was empty. No-one else in it, just me in the lane, about 2 hours swimming done. he gets in the lane with me.
So, I pass The Snake about every 8 lengths. But he never gets out of the way, never pulls over, completely ignores me, tapping his foot is ignored. So I have swim pass every time. And he turns in the middle of the lane.

So, to repeat, I’m two hours in. And then I have to deal with this clown. I lasted about 20 or 30 minutes and became increasingly angry until I eventually just flipped and blew him out of the water on a turn. I turned right on him. He didn’t know what hit him. I left him wallowing and struggling to regain his feet.

Hey, I’m an Open Water Swimmer. Full contact is common in OW races. Fists, elbows, feet, kicks, pushes and punches.

The point is, I’ve put up with this moron for years and all I’ve ever done if offer to help him and be ignored.

I guess it’s a illustration of Eilish’s point about the psychological effects of heavy training.

Of course, there was no improvement in this idiot’s behaviour. Mine is back to normal. Today with 2 people in the pool, including myself, he gets into the lane again. Today I didn’t swim over him.

I did contemplate putting on my paddles and going for the Ben-Hur chariot-wheel scythe effect…but I didn’t.

2 thoughts on “The Snake and the psychological effects of training

  1. I guess maybe that illustrates my point. I don’t normally act this way, I might be annoyed but I generally try to ignore it.
    I mainly acted the way I did as a side-effect of the training.


  2. backstroke is good for twits like this. you can legitimately plough into them “oh sorry i didn’t see you” and you can flick kick water over their heads every time you pass. particularly effective if they breathe to the inside of the lane. they dont realise this is on purpose.

    we have someone similar here, the windmill, i call him. he has straight arms and some sort of sideways breaststroke screw kick that extends outwards and manages to take up a whole lane because he swims up and down the middle of the lane. he’s also a real speed merchant, at about 3 mins per 100. he got into the lane with three of us one day, we were clipping along nicely on repeat 1k’s, holding about 80’s / 100, so a big speed difference. bear in mind there are two other lanes and the main pool also, but he gets into the “fast” lane. i tipped off the others, so we all clipped him the first time we passed him. no result. i clipped him hard the next time, almost swimming over him as there was someone coming up the other side. no result. i did actually swim over him the third time, again some coming against me, so what could i do? he stopped, a lifeguard came over and they had a discussion. he then moved into the main pool. i havent seen him since, funnily enough.

    and then there are the old dears, pottering along on breaststroke, making sure the back of their hair doesn’t get wet. generally a splash is enough for these.

    my own pet hate is when people push off in front of you, just as you come in to tumble. why oh why do they do this. i’ll be kind and say they dont realise how slow they are and that they are actually interfering with my training. most people don’t actually realise that someone would actually train in a pool and they just use the pool as a wash / cool down after a strenuous 20 mins on the treadmill watching skynews or listening to their ipod.


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