Engineer fun stuff

communications protocols for swimming pools

I was having a swim before work this morning, as you do – healthy body, healthy mind etc. I had a whole lane to myself which those of you who indulge in a bit of a splash before work will know is a real luxury.

There are two types of communications scenarios used in the swimming pool, one for serious lane swimming and one for the general melee and out and out chaos when you take the kids.

For the latter you employ more CSMA/CD1  style protocols of the old Ethernet hub world. Lane swimming is different. Lane swimming employs multilevel quality of service. The faster the swimmer the further towards the far side of the pool he or she goes. Slow ones like me go to the lanes nearest the changing rooms.

This basic protocol typically keeps everyone happy though even within lanes there are different “packet speeds”. Although I am a slow swimmer if I encounter an even slower swimmer I either overtake in a bit of “open water” or turn around when I catch the person up and swim back in the other direction. If I am the slower I usually pause at one end to let the faster person overtake.

It all works well. Everyone knows the protocol, the etiquette. We are a happy bunch, us early morning swimmers.

This morning was slightly different. I was ploughing away on my own, “in the zone” when a shadowy figure appeared at the shallow end of the pool. I say shadowy figure because without my specs life is a bit of a blur. I thought to myself, “hope that person isn’t coming in my private lane”. It turned out she was.

Now normally the protocol for newbies to the water is that they wait for the person swimming to go past then get in. I was just coming to the wall when this shadowy figure jumped in and set off directly in front of me momentarily throwing me off my stride/stroke. Huh I thought to myself, just a teeny bit disgruntled.

She was a slightly faster swimmer than me so she soon moved away. Then a couple of laps later she caught up with me just as I was getting to the shallow end and blow me down if she didn’t shove in front and disrupt me again.

Being extremely short sighted (-5) I will never know who she was and she will never know that she breached the unwritten law, the etiquette of the lane swimmer. There was no point in complaining. I finished my 30 minutes (ish) and got out of the water.

Protocols – why we need them and the consequences of a breakdown in order…

1 look it up – this blog is not here to teach the basics. It’s here for my own gratification 🙂

Trefor Davies

By Trefor Davies

Liver of life, father of four, CTO of, writer, poet,

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