Jul 17, 2005

Swimming in China

Beijing has many universities, which means there are lots of athletic facilities you can exercise at. Many of the universities have open swimming in their 50 meter pools, which is a nice treat. The college pools are Olympic-sized, typically 50 m x 25 m, so they'll allocate half of the 50 m lanes as a shallow swim area and then fence off the other half as the "deep swimming area". To swim in the deep area you need to prove your worthiness by performing two feats of strength, consisting of a 200 meter swim and then treading water for 2 minutes. You then give them a passport sized photo and they'll create a nice little ID card you can give them in the future, and possibly even use at other universities' pools so you can forego the test again. I like the idea of not letting everyone into the lap swimming area since it means there is more room to swim. Here's a summary of what I think of lap-swimming in Beijing.

  • Chinese don't know how to push off the wall in a streamline position and glide for more than two feet. This means if you do a turn right after a Chinese swimmer has pushed off the wall, you will most likely unintentionally streamline underneath him and surface in front of him, startling both of you.
  • 99.99% of Chinese only know how to do breaststroke, which they call "frog stroke", interestingly enough. This means you can easily pass them in the middle of the lane.
  • Chinese doing breaststroke don't streamline after the arm stroke. This means you can easily pass them in the middle of the lane, while swimming breaststroke yourself.
  • Chinese don't do flip turns. Maybe because the only stroke they do is breaststroke. This means you can pass them even more easily on a turn.
  • Most Chinese must stop after every 50 meters to rest. They usually stop right in the center of the wall where someone is liable to do a flip-turn on their sternum.
  • Since Chinese swim slowly, and never for more then 50 meters at a time, when they see you coming into the wall they will wait until you're one body-length from the wall and then push off (sans-streamlined position) in front of you. It never occurs to them that you're going to do a flip turn and collide with them.
  • Due to the negatives above, you can feel like you're an excellent swimmer since you'll be passing so many people.
  • Lifeguards enforce that all swimmers wear caps, unless you are completely bald
  • Everyone wears flip-flops in the shower areas, which probably reduces the passing of fungus and other diseases
  • Segregation of lap swimming and non-lap swimmers
  • Lots of 50 meter pools to swim in
  • When I'm swimming at cool-down speed, I don't need to worry about getting in anyone's way since they don't swim that fast to begin with
I've not found many comments on people's experiences on swimming in China other than this one.


Blogger Annoyingzhang said...

HAHAHA this is tooo funny. I am Chinese and never thought of the idea to lap swim. I have been to a private penthouse pool in Shen Zhen that was HUGE!! and since it's for VIPS there was no one there... what a waste. But i have to try regular o lap pools for the "full" experience of being ultra fast.

4:51 PM  

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