A clash of cultures in the pool

The police were called to a pool in Germany because a swimmer broke the rules and swam freestyle outside of a designated freestyle lane. Because of "dangerous waves" triathletes and swimmers in many places in Germany are not allowed to use all lanes of the pools to swim freestyle, butterfly or backstroke. This is also an annoying inconvenience for visiting athletes who marvel at some of the beautiful Olympic-level pools only to realize that the black lines at the bottom mean absolutely nothing.

According to hessenschau.de the rule in Gelnhausen was put into place in the fall of 2012 because older patrons complained. "There was a time when the pool was out of control. Inconsiderate freestyle swimmers plowed through the pool, created dangerous waves and splashed other swimmers. That was not okay for several other pool visitors," wrote hessenschau.de. After some initial mockery of that rule and some "fake news" about Gelnhausen only being a breaststroke pool, peace apparently returned to Gelnhausen. Gelnhausen does have a dedicated freestyle lane, a breaststroke lane and a club swim lane.

But on Thursday a swimmer swam freestyle outside the dedicated freestyle lane and failed to heed the instruction and warning of the Bademeister (pool manager). The Bademeister then called police and the swimmer left when police arrived.

This rule is not unusual in Germany where many go to the pool to relax and socialize with friends. Thus freestyle "splashing" is frowned upon in many places.

On a personal note my mother, when she was among us, desperately avoided getting her hair wet when she swam breaststroke, head high in the pool or in the lake, and often complained about those near her out of control "kraulen."

This kind of pool culture is not typical of U.S. competition pools, where those ready for a workout sometimes complain of folks standing, walking or floating on their backs in a perfectly good swim lane.