Friday, February 25, 2005

Why are men so afraid of being beaten by a girl?

I don’t normally go to public swim. It gives me pool rage. It’s like an obstacle course trying to swim around all of those floaters clogging up the "fast" lane.

It’s probably a good thing I don’t own a car.

Against my better judgement, I took the plunge and went for a swim at the Vancouver Aquatic Centre this morning. Nothing could have prepared me for the testosterone-fuelled pissing match it turned out to be.

As I was doing laps around the thrashers and the floaters, a group of seven guys strode confidently across the deck wearing nothing but Speedos. Sort of like Reservoir Dogs, but without clothes.

My lane emptied out faster than a greased seal on a waterslide. As they were loudly gathering in the water, I asked if they’d mind if I joined their workout.

I must have been the first girl who asked if she could swim with them because they suddenly grew quiet and circled like sharks. They fired questions at me, asking what pace I could hold on 100 free.

I wasn’t about to give into their lame attempts at intimidation so I lied and made up an impossibly fast time.

"Yeah," one of the guys shrugged. "That’s about what we do on an easy set. You’re welcome to swim with us. But we’re probably a lot faster than you so maybe you should swim near the back."

My blood pressure skyrocketed. If there was one thing that would motivate me to swim faster, that was it.

"WE’LL SEE ABOUT THAT, SUCKERS!" was what I thinking.

What I actually said -- in a demure and modest voice for added effect -- was, "Oh, I’m sure you’re right. I’ll just hang on the back and try my best to keep up."

Nothing infuriates me more than guys who don’t want to admit that a woman could be faster, better or stronger than them. Nothing amuses me more, either.

The ringleader announced the workout – 10 times 200-metre freestyle, on three-minute intervals. And with that, we were off -- on a pace so fast you’d think we were swimming in the Olympic finals.

I started at the back of the pack, and then dropped a couple of guys after the first few sets. They claimed they were stiff from a really hard workout yesterday. Typical guys. They had to come up with something to explain why I was faster than they were. And they had to tell me their excuse, just so I knew that any other day, they’d be faster than me.

About halfway into the workout, I wanted to stop. These guys were pushing the pace really hard and I was struggling to keep up. At the end of each set, they’d ask how I was doing and I’d say, "Great!" when what I really wanted to do was scream, "YOU FUCKERS ARE KILLING ME!"

But there was no way I was going to stop. My pride wouldn’t let me. I didn’t want to give them the satisfaction of knowing how much pain I was in. It took everything I had to keep going. They made a point of watching my time on the clock and telling me I was getting slower.

I gritted my teeth and hung on. After it was over, I thanked them for the workout between gasps for air. They told me I was welcome to join them any time. Despite their machismo, they were actually pretty nice.

And since I’m generally pretty nice too, I decided to rebuild their fragile male egos by being as generous as Santa on Christmas Day.

"Holy, crap. That was a hard workout. You guys are fast."

On that note, I'm off to get groceries and rent some movies. I can't imagine doing anything more strenuous than lying on the couch tonight. Plus, I've got to get up early for my trip to Seattle tomorrow. Yay! Road trip!


Callie said...

Nice work! I love the fact that women can be competitive AND nice at the same time! Sounds like things at the YWCA are a bit tamer... but no 50m laps :(

Kits pool is a gong show too, but at least it's in the sunshine! Watch out for those breast strokers!

Brian Lavery said...

Hi Callie, you read Sarah's blog?
Too small a world.Scary actually.

Sarah, congratulations on swimming with the big dogs. Hey, it's good to push yourself once in a while. Great work sticking it out!! I couldn't do it.
It's funny how often places empty out when I stride out in my Speedo. Great for getting through grocery lineups, getting a seat on the bus, or in a movie theatre. I wonder if is my testosterone, or the fact that I wear a speedo in public that people seem to get out of the way.
Please don't take offense at the 100 m time question; it's just for pool etiquette that they asked that. They don't know who you are. There are not that many fast women swimmers out there and they probably were worried about embarrassing you. I hope you had fun with that group and continue swimming with them. That group would be
so much more fun if you joined them occasionally.
Have a great time in Seattle

Anonymous said...


My guess is that they pushed the pace just to show you your place and that they had just as hard a time sustaining that pace as you did. You very likely surprised them by pushing them harder than they expected you would.

I imagine that when they went back to the locker room they were asking each other who "that girl" was, especially considering that you smoked two of them. The 100m question probably had more to do with you not embarrassing them than the other way around.

I'm sure that their plans for the night were very similar to yours. You should keep swimming with them and see what happens next time. Maybe you'll make some new friends. -K

Alan said...

maybe there is possible boyfriend material there? opportunity knocks in the strangest places!

Brian Lavery said...

those guys were from the Dolphins morning group. By the way, that swim is a Dolphins workout and is supposed to be an "invited" swim. Joe Lee was at that particular swim and he told me that you guys were all trying to kick the shit out of each other and that the testosterone was pretty high. ha ha ha
Great work keeping up with Joe! - I'm impressed.

Sarah said...

Thanks for the awesome comments everyone, especially Brian!

I'm back from Seattle now (obviously). Yeah, I don't know who those guys were or where they came from. John Lee? Hmmm...I don't remember any Asian guys in the group.

As for potential boyfriend material, um, no. Lots of gold wedding bands and significant age differences all around. Trust me, I thought the same thing. Funny how I always now look at a man's left hand before flirting with him.

If I see a wedding band, I'm outta there!


Anonymous said...


Brian's comment said Joe Lee, not John Lee. I notice this only because I used to be married to a John Lee. And he wasn't Asian, he was British.


Sarah said...

Oops. I guess it's true what they say, when you assume, you make an ASS out of U and ME.

Sarah :)

Callie said...

Hee hee, don't worry. Joe is, in fact, Asian. And probably wearing a big smile along with his speedo.

Sarah said...

Hmm...if Joe Lee is in fact Asian, then I wasn't swimming with his group. The Dolphins swim at 5:30 a.m. (!!!) and I was at the pool around lunch-time.

There's no way in hell I'd swim at 5:30 a.m. I had enough of that foolishness when I was younger.