“Hey,” a male voice shouted, just as I was about to swim away from the edge of the pool. I turned round, slowly registering that it was directed at me. There was no one else in the pool.
All I could make out was a shining white bald head, from the bubbling Jacuzzi nearby, he was almost hissing: “You can’t spit outside the pool.”
Being shortsighted, and wearing goggles, I could not see his face, but his anger towards me was tangible, burning on my skin. I must have just spat in the water and cleared my itchy throat, too much chlorine. His accusing and unpleasant tone startled me.
“Why not?” I asked automatically, my mind went blank for a moment yet I tried to think. Is there a rule against spitting water while swimming?
“Because it’s disgusting,” he emphasised, his voice more severe and louder than before. “You are disgusting. I work here, and I shall report you.” He sounded aggressive, his manner menacing. It was as if I had committed a capital sin and he was going to jump out of his Jacuzzi and strangle me. Was this some kind of Pool Rage?
“Do whatever you like,” I retorted, still shocked, then agitated by his increasingly insulting manners.
“I dare you to spit again. I shall be watching you, yeah, I SHALL BE WATCHING YOU!” He repeated, a threat.
“Watch all you like,” I said, feeling tempted to add, “A pervert or what? Nasty piece of work.” As I turned away, I felt his gaze upon me, burning my back with his hatred. I felt my skin crawl at this realisation and felt a disturbing sensation: This strange weirdo will be staring at me as I make each stroke in the water, and I can’t even tell who he is or what he looks like.
All of a sudden, the Friday afternoon swim had lost its appeal. It was meant to relieve my stress from work. In seconds, this abusive sociopath from nowhere managed to spoil it.
Afterwards, I made a complaint; but nothing came out of it. We ended the gym contract, which was a rip off anyway, yet the firm continued to charge us for months afterwards.
That happened a few years ago, and needless to say, I hardly ever ventured swimming again, except when holidaying overseas. I did, however, receive a pair of new optical goggles that Christmas.
I was brought up enjoying doing sport, and there was a time when I would brave the summer sun at 40 degrees Centigrade and above and play basket ball outside, every day! I also used to excel in table-tennis and won a county championship when I was 12 years old.
Swimming did not come easy, as I did not have the fortune of having swimming pools near us, so I learnt swimming as an adult. I ‘forced’ myself to pick up basic swimming techniques when my Greek friends managed to half choke me with sea water when we played in the Aegean sea.
Now with 2012 London Olympics taking place near me, and all the buzz, excitement and wonderful spirit associated with this awe-inspiring event, I cannot help but feeling energised and encouraged by going back into swimming again. As I sit in front of my TV watching the women’s swimming, rowing and cycling, I have come to the decision that I’m going back to swimming, soon !
And this time, no shouting sociopath would deter me!
I am heading to London later this week to watch the Athletics – please come back here soon, as I would be reporting on my Olympic adventure, even though just as a spectator