PCA Masters website. It's really pretty mundane, but explains a lot that would take forever to explain and never really get conveyed by writing.
This view is positioned over lanes 4 (right) and 5 (left). You can see some of lane 3 and 6 to the further right and left respectively. Each lane has swimmers with similar pace. In fact, they are pretty much in order of their pace within the lane too. The fastest leads the lane, followed by the next fastest and so on, with the slowest person in the back.
As it turns out, our fastest lane is lane 5. Typically, those in this lane raced in college or at some point were very competitive, and now, they are still really fast. They pretty much know the drill, and are sophisticated on how they approach each workout, down to each swim within the workout. The only people in lane 5 that do not fit this description have some swim aids.
Swim aids include "zoomers" or swim fins. They are little short fins designed to be used for swim training. There are also paddles. These fit the palm of your hands, and use rubber tubing around your hand to hold them in place. They are larger than your hand, so you can pull more water in your stroke. Finally, the 3rd swim aid is the pull bouy. Usually it sounds like pull boy... the two words are hard to say together, especially if you are mid-workout. The pull bouy is a styrofoam figure eight shape piece you hold between your upper thighs. It's purpose is to hold your hips higher in the water so you can pull with just your arms, and let your legs drag behind you without sinking. All three of these theoretically help you focus on strengthening something. Sort of the concept of batters swinging two bats before they go to the plate, so one bat feels so much lighter. The unwritten part about swim aids is, they are a crutch. They allow you to swim faster than if you weren't using them. Swimming fast feels really really good. No question, it's a great workout, with or without aids. With aids, you can go fast. The other unwritten thing about swim aids. They really don't make you go faster without them. It's a myth!! The myth holds up, because they are really fun to use, and we need something we can say, why we use them other than, I am using a crutch. So, notice their use in each lane...and smile.
More on lanes
Moving from lane 5 to 4, those in lane 4, in general can have similar characteristics to lane 5 although of course, they are slower. Whereas lane 5 becomes predominantly men, lane 4 has a larger percentage of woman, and typically they are woman who swam at college level. Also, you will find men who used to be lane 5, and are at a point where they need to move down a lane now. Finally, there are young men who have come up through the ranks, or just because they are young, and strong, and pretty good swimmers, they can hang in lane 4. And last but not least are the oldies. Guys like me. We have been swimming a while, but came up through the ranks, typically starting in lane 1, and as we got stronger, moved up. Lane 4 is cool. Everyone is used to the routine. We work hard. And occasionally have a bit of time for Jib Jab.
These days I call lane 4, my lane. I pretty much have to be on my game to stick with lane 4. For example, I missed about 2 months of swimming and came back to lane 3 by my choice, and mid-workout, my coach said, move to lane 2!! Dang!! I haven't swam lane 2 for a while. Which brings me to another point. Swimming you lose fast, and gain strength back fast. I told someone this week, think in terms of a day a week. Meaning, for every day you practice, you erase a week of not having practiced. So, last week I swam 4 days. Using my formula, I would erase 4 weeks of no practice. Half way back!! So far, this week I moved back to lane 4. It's been a huge struggle. I can't keep up. So, I go to the back of the lane. As long as I don't get lapped, its fine. I just get less rest, and work harder every lap, with of course, the intention of getting back to where I left off.
So, that's my goal. To get back to where I was. Why? Okay, the real goal is, swim Trans-Tahoe relay without being an embarrassment to my team. What team? It's the same guys I swam with last year. Team Zola*. A bunch of really nice guys, albeit younger than me by 10-15 years. I hope no more than that, but it's possible. Anyways, they are all super swimmers. In fact of the 6 of us, I think at least are swimming in lane 5 and the rest are in lane 4. So, you see? I am working my fanny off to get to be the slowest person on the team, and hopefully not as slow as I am now.
Okay, this whole post was Jib Jab.
*One of our team members, Chris Cuvelier is the founder and president of Zola, a superfood energy / nutrition drink company (and our sponsor)!
**I used to be addicted to swim aids. Especially zoomers. They were so much fun!! The downside for me, was trying to swim in events, after not having swam aid-free. So, I am on the 12-step program, and take it a day at a time.