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Deep Eddy Etiquette Lessons

On a recent 100-degree Saturday afternoon at Deep Eddy Pool, as sunbathers glistened on colorful blankets and toddlers waded giddily into the spring-fed, ice cold waters of Texas’s oldest man-made swimming pool, a mini drama was unfolding by the lap lanes.

Gathered by the faded yellow stone wall that runs lengthwise along the pool was a disorganized group of hopeful lap swimmers, jockeying for coveted space in one of the seven idyllic lanes. From a woman in a flimsy bikini with no cap or goggles to a toned man sporting a Speedo and carrying flippers – the Saturday swimmers ranged in age and expertise, but all had one thing in common: they were lost. Unsure of how to ease their way into the sea of freestyling Austinites, they milled around, looking for direction on when and where to start their workout.

Unfortunately, it’s not an uncommon scene at the lovely Deep Eddy, where the seven lap lanes are open – and full – 8am to 8pm, seven days a week. Aside from a few often ignored plastic signs, there’s no instructions for the best way to slide into a lane, and the lifeguards offer little help or authority on the matter — they’re here for saving lives, after all, not directing traffic. “Nope, not really!” a bronzed lifeguard cheerfully replied on Saturday when asked if there was any order for who got to hop in first.

Luckily, we’re here to help. After showing you some of Deep Eddy’s iconic style in our July issue, we wanted to offer some etiquette lessons as well. Based on some serious field reporting (tough job, we know) and chats with Deep Eddy regulars, we’ve put together a few guidelines for lap swimming at Austin’s favorite watering hole.

Obey the signs.

  • “Circle swimming” means exactly what it suggests. Swim in a circle. Up the lane on the right, and back down on the left. Like driving or walking up an escalator, be courteous — but efficient — when passing.
  • That “circle swimming” sign also denotes the lane is for sharing, meaning it’s open for more than one or two swimmers. But don’t push it. More than four swimmers in any lane is a bummer for everyone.
  • Signs without “circle swimming” signs are for splitting. Two swimmers max. One swimmer takes the right side of the lane, the second takes the left. On crowded days, you might be able to sweet talk your way into turning a split lane into a circle-swimming lane, but make sure to ask the lane occupants beforehand. And please, don’t flag them down. Wait until they have come to a comfortable stop on the wall.

Know your speed.

  • And pick a lane that best matches it.

Wait your turn – sort of.

  • Before you throw your cap on and jump into the first lane available, check out who else is hanging around the wall. Use your judgment – are the wallflowers patiently waiting their turn for a lane space to open up, or are they cooling down after (or procrastinating before) a workout? If it’s the former, let them go first. If you think it’s the latter, being polite still doesn’t hurt. A simple “are you waiting for a lane?” goes a long way.

Calm down.

  • Yes you’re here to workout, and you’re very busy. We get it. But take a deep breath and relax. You’ll get your laps in, and if you have to hang out for five or ten minutes and look out onto the beautiful pool and Lake Austin, is that really so awful?
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