Information/FAQ on 4/Lane DAM Swim Program

Video Demonstration
Here's a link to a short video demonstrating how a set would work. 

I have received my assignment. Why am I assigned to a different lane each time? Are we swimming with the same people each time?
Great questions! 
You are probably not swimming with the same people each day, but there will likely be some overlap between you and other swimmers. 
Different swimmers have assignments on different groups of days - there are "Mon, Wed, Fri", and "Tues, Thurs, Sat/Sun". Then there are some "Mon, Tues, Thurs", "Tues, Thurs, Fri", "Mon, Wed, Thurs", and even more combinations. The result is that each workout, on each day, gets a different group of people. 
Stu and Mary took the swimmers in each workout and made lane assignments that matched the various postal paces. The old pattern of slowest (lane1) -> fastest (lane 8) does not apply, because we reserve lanes 1 and 8 for swimmers with postal paces that don't fit into larger groups (those folks go into lanes 2-7, where there are up to 4 swimmers). Even in those inner lanes, the ordering doesn't always follow a "slow-fast" pattern. Thus, on different days you may end up in different lanes, with different swimmers. All swimmers in your lane _should_ be of similar postal pace, however, so the grouping should work out fine together. If not, Stu and Mary are at the ready to adjust where needed. 

Why are we doing this? 
 In short, there are two reasons: because we can and because we feel that we should. 
 Here’s a little more explanation. First, we can do this because Yolo County has moved into the "Red Tier" of California's "Blueprint for a Safer Economy", and that led the Yolo County Health Department to amend its "Organized Lap Swimming Protocol" to allow up to 4 swimmers per lane. 
 Just because we can switch to 4 swimmers per lane, it doesn't necessarily mean that we should. But while some of us may have reservations, Stu, Mary, and the Board of Directors all feel strongly that this is a step that DAM should take and here’s why:

  • We feel that this can be done safely. 
  • By making this change, we will be able to offer 3 hours of scheduled workouts per week, instead of the 2 currently allowed.
  • We can get more of our swimmers back in the pool. You may not be aware of this, but many of our swimmers are not scheduled for regular weekly swims. Of those, quite a few continue to support DAM by paying dues. Others have left DAM to swim elsewhere. While we are proud of our efforts to get most of our swimmers in the pool, we feel very strongly that we should offer the opportunity to as many of our members (including members who have left because of the pandemic) as we can. The change to 4 swimmers per lane gives us the capacity to do so.
  • The previous reason is important. DAM's mission is to promote swimming for the physical fitness and mental health of all our members and for the swimming community. Consequently, our excitement over the opportunities some of us have to swim for 2 hours per week is tempered by the fact that many of our swimmers have been left out.

How will this all work?
This format will not work without the efforts of all swimmers to make it work! It will be messy. We all will be confused at some point. Some things in your workout may not work at all. But we'll get better! 
You may recall similar feelings prior to our one-swimmer-per-lane program, and then before our two-swimmers-per-lane program. We forgot our masks. We didn't know where our "station" was. We got in the pool (or out of the pool) at the wrong time. But it wasn't that bad, and we all got better!

How do we enter/exit the pool? 
Each workout can have as many as 28 swimmers, so nearly all stations on deck will be used for every workout. That means that we cannot have a 5-minute period prior to the start of a workout where swimmers may enter the pool deck area to get ready. 
 When we have 4 swimmers per lane, you will have to wait outside the Brady Building before your workout until all swimmers from the previous workout have exited the pool, dressed, and left the pool facility. Yes, all 28 swimmers from the previous workout must exit the facility before any swimmers from your workout may enter the facility. All swimmers should plan their workout so that they can exit the pool facility by the end of their assigned hour. No long gab sessions on deck (there are swimmers waiting outside!), no deck changes (please), no waiting until 1 minute is left in your workout to exit and dress, unless you can exit the facility in a minute (there are swimmers waiting outside!). 
 This will be enforced by coaches - and probably by the swimmers who are waiting. We hope that social pressure and cajoling from the coaches will be enough, but stronger sanctions (including your exclusion from practices) are possible if that doesn't work. 

Will we just swim sets like we did before?
You might be thinking, "we've swum with 4 per lane before - so its just like the old days". Well, not quite, because COVID-related restrictions still require us to maintain 6-foot distancing between all swimmers. That makes a set a little different than in "the old days". 
Swimmers will be assigned to lanes according to their postal pace (subject to Stu and Mary's input and adjustments). That's similar to how things used to be, but the similarities stop there. In your lane, at the start of a set, there will be two swimmers at each end of the pool. One of the two is at the wall, and the other waits at the flags. When the set starts, the swimmers at the wall push off, and the swimmers at the flags swim to the wall, then push off and follow.  All swimmers will circle-swim. We must do our best to maintain distancing, even while in the pool. No gathering at the wall between sets, or even between swims during a set. If you start at the flags and swim a 50, you should first swim to the near wall, push off, swim to the other wall, turn, and finish your 50 at the flags - not at the wall. 

Here's a link to a short video demonstrating how a set would work. 

What if I have to stop during a set or between sets?
 Common sense will help here. If you must stop during a set, then stop at the wall, in the right-hand-corner of your lane ("right" as you face the wall), facing away from other swimmers. Wait until all swimmers have passed you and rejoin the lane at your place in the order of swimmers. 
 If you must stop to rest, then you should exit the pool and wait on the side of the pool while the workout continues without you. When you are ready to rejoin, enter the pool at your place in the order of swimmers. 

What if I catch the person in front of me, or if I am caught by the swimmer behind me?
This is why your postal pace is so important in scheduling. Pick a realistic postal pace. Stu and Mary will do their best to get everyone in a lane that will work, but don't expect perfection. We all must work together. So, use common sense and do your best to follow the workout sets as directed by the coach. 

I like to do my own thing, not the workout. What about me? 
DAM is home to many swimmers of all ages and abilities. Those who have physical limitations that prevent them from following the assigned workout will be assigned by Stu and Mary to one of the end lanes, where they will be able to swim with only two per lane. Circle-swim or lane-splitting will be up to the lane mates.
Those who sometimes want to modify a set during a workout must use common sense and be especially considerate of their late mates.  The easiest way to do that is to swim each set as called by the coach on deck.