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modern ms manners: summer swimming etiquette

Enjoying a swim is an integral part of the Australian summer, along with eating your weight in Frosty Fruit iceblocks and trying not to burn yourself on the seatbelt clicker as you get into the car. Personally I find that nothing is more refreshing than going for a dip, whether it be at the local pool, beach or even an accommodatingly large puddle.

However, too often I have been battered by an unruly pool noodle, or forced to endure repeated splashes of water in the face from the girl in my building who is apparently unable to kick underwater. Not to mention the overwhelming dread one feels upon finding a “warm spot” in one’s public pool….

So that we can all enjoy the best summer has to offer, I have compiled the following swimming etiquette tips.

Outdoor Pool:

Ah the outdoor pool, a favourite haunt for families and amorous teenagers alike. At your local outdoor pool, I offer the following advice:

1. A pool is not a bath: Perhaps the most important lesson we can teach each other is to remember that a pool is not bath.  As both are big containers of water, I appreciate that this may be confusing but a good rule of thumb is that if you have to go outside and pay to use a public space, it is pretty safe to say that you are in fact in a pool and not a bath. Use the showers provided.

2. I do not want to see your Band-aid: Similar point to the above, the public pool is not a handkerchief, urinal, wet wipe or collector of band aids. Actually, if you are wearing a Band-aid, do not go to the pool. You are/could become infectious. And that is gross.

3. Laying of one’s towel denotes one’s spot: Often the role of dads at the pool, much thinking goes into the appropriate spot to set up your swimming ensemble. Do not move or interfere with another’s towel. This is the pool equivalent of moving another person’s house just because they might have a better view. Instead, become friends with that person and they might let you share the view.

Indoor Pool:

In my experience indoor pools are the smaller but sportier cousin to the outdoor pool, as more often than not they are reserved for lap swimming, training or indoor sports. Here, all the same rules of outdoor pool apply to indoor pool but with a few extras:

1. Your butterfly style is more like ‘drowning moth’: At an indoor pool the space is generally more limited; therefore you need to be more conscious of others around you. Accordingly it is not always going to be appropriate to practise your butterfly, swan diving or bombing techniques, especially if there is another person in the pool trying to do laps (I would like to be able to come up for breath as opposed to a mouthful of Band-aid filled water thank you!)

2. Know your limits: This rule applies for all types of swimming. If you do not actually know how to swim then you should be very conscious about going beyond the shallow end without the instruction of a supervisor. CPR floatation devices are not your toys.

3. There are more appropriate places for hair washing: If the rules say wear a swim cap, it does not count if your hair is still hanging out the bottom. See point above re: “Pool is not a bath”.


Just as everyone learns the value of the ‘hot sand dance’ as they dash from the surf to their towels, the following lessons should also be learnt:

1. Do not violate the “towel safe”: Similarly to outdoor pool, laying out your towel is staking your claim in that patch of sand. Further, it is accepted that whilst it may not be the most secure option, hiding your belongings in your towel (now known as the “towel safe”) is part of the beach code. Any attempt by a stranger to mess with that “towel safe” is against beach code.

2. Only puppies get to shake themselves dry: When laying your towel, it is useful to remember that it is covered in sand. Therefore any subsequent fluffing or straightening of said towel should be done in a manner so as to avoid shaking sand over those next to you.

3. Sand, sand everywhere: Speaking of sand, accept that you are going to be covered in it, in places you did not even realise had sand contact. Therefore there is no point in hogging the public showers; just use the tap to rinse off your feet before walking through the piles of sand that have collected near the tap, and brush your feet on the grass like everyone else. Again know your showers.

By following the simple guidelines above, I believe we can all enjoy a refreshing dip this summer. Including this guy.

(Image credit)

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