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Don't be a poolside pest
Sherin Mammen
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June 28, 2007

Is a day at the pool your idea of beating the heat or having fun? Chances are that the noisy kids, their over-enthusiastic parents, the people in 'Baywatch' swimwear or the littered pool surroundings at your local club will be waiting to greet you.

Using a swimming pool is no longer the prerogative of the rich. Today, not just the numerous hotels but also any residential complex worth a mention offers its residents the use of an exclusive clubhouse and pool. These tend to be crowd pullers so don't be surprised if your idea of a 'quiet' swim doesn't exactly turn out that way.

The poolside and the water could be teeming with children and their minders who'll be equally excited about feeling water under their feet. Not to mention the over-dressed or the under-dressed wannabe swimmers prompting stares and snide remarks.

So what is ideal poolside behaviour? Are there any rules that you should observe while at the pool?

There have been reports of campaigns by swimming pools in some countries like the UK to introduce rules of poolside etiquette. Though no such effort has been reported in India (the concept of going to a pool has only recently caught on with the masses), most hotels and housing societies have their own lists of dos and don'ts. There is no single rulebook that dictates pool behaviour though.

Dos and don'ts

Here are some things to keep in mind while at the poolside to make the experience an enjoyable one:

~ Choose your swimwear sensibly

Women should refrain from wearing anything that restricts free movement inside the pool. This is not just about fashion, but safety as well. At the same time, don't get adventurous and squeeze into a two-piece bikini if you're not in good shape.

If you're visiting a public pool, you would be well advised to avoid the itsy-bitsy two-piece and opt for a modest one-piece. This will prevent the unwanted stares and comments.

Go low on the bling factor, and wear as little jewellery (or none) as possible. Wear a swimming cap to protect your hair from the chlorine and prevent loose hair from clogging the drains.

Make sure that your arms and legs are clean of hair to avoid looking messy. Use a waterproof sunscreen lotion to prevent sunburn but if you swim for long hours it may not help.

Men don't need the six-pack abs to bare their torso. But avoid embarrassing the ladies with tiny briefs. Opt for swim shorts; they come in all sizes, colors and prints.

~ Leave the gizmos at home

Life without your mobile phone and game console may be difficult to imagine, but carrying them to the pool's edge is carrying it too far. If you have to take your phone, make sure to make your way to a less-populated part of the pool while answering it and try not to disturb everyone else.

~ Watch your kids

You can't keep children away from the water nor can you prevent them from splashing around and having fun. You can however, make sure they are properly escorted and under control. Be warned, letting a child who is not potty-trained into the pool would only be asking for trouble.

Take your children to the pool at a time when there are fewer adults, so they can have fun without disturbing anyone. On the other hand, if you are the kind who detests splashing kids, wait for a convenient time to get into the pool. If you are a serious swimmer though, a public pool would not be your cup of tea.

~ Avoid poolside snacking and restrict it to the dinning areas

~ Do not ogle or stare at the opposite sex

~ Refrain from passing snide remarks about someone who is not as well-mannered as you'd like

~ Restrict public displays of affection or flirting at a public pool

So, make sure you follow these basic rules the next time you visit the pool to make the swim a happy, refreshing experience for yourself and your fellow swimmers.

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