Last year I graduated with a degree in Economics and since then, I really haven’t applied much of what I learned to my daily activities. Except for one thing in particular, noticing inefficiencies. I see them everywhere and admittedly, I get caught up trying to figure out a better way for particular instances.
Starting with the basics, Economics is essentially the study of the optimal allocation of scarce resources. This can be applied to just about whatever you want to argue, but I’m taking this topic to the pool.
Pools have a finite number of lanes and depending on where you live, there may be a lot of people who swim where you do. The problem is clear – lanes are scarce, but how do you allocate swimmers efficiently without a masters’ program or the similar?
I swim at the University of Granada pool and they don’t have a clue. They also charge their students 3 € per swim (4 € for me), whereas most University’s have an all-inclusive fee for recreational facilities. Maybe they’re out to make as much as possible and disregard the quality of swims they could provide. I’d ask, but when you understand every 5th word, it’s hard to piece together a coherent sentence.
I like to swim first thing in the morning. There’s nothing better than a solid swim session and a calorically dense breakfast to start the day, so I would go when the pool would open at 8 am. The first time I went early, it turned out to be a bad decision. I tried again another day, but that too turned out to be a bad decision. Two classes, taking up 6 of the 9 lanes, are scheduled from opening until… I don’t know when, it seems that a group gets out and a new one rolls in.
Then there are these two girls who apparently get their own lane for the entire day. Some guy, presumably their coach, stands guard to make sure no one besides them enters that lane. They’re decent swimmers, but to grant a lane all to themselves seems a little silly. Why are they better than the calle rapida?
I think I know why! Because the last two lanes are a melting pot of swimmers. The lanes are designated calle rapida and calle lente, but no different than any pool I’ve swam at in the US, no one pays attention to those “suggestions.” Instead, I get the joy of swimming with brackstrokers, ladies who sit on kick boards in the middle of the pool, and people who just might have been swimming backwards – I have no other way to explain their slow pace than by saying that they somehow discovered a way to swim in the opposite direction of their arm propulsion. Oh yeah, I forgot to clarify “brackstroking.” It’s easily executed by swimming breaststroke… on your back! Not only is it kind of awkward and an inefficient stroke, it also impedes the progress of other swimmers.
It just so happened that my harder swims for the week happened to fall on these days. To say it was frustrating, is a vast understatement. I actually stopped and stood in the corner of the lane for 15-minutes looking for a better alternative. I gave up on that, disregarded my interval, and wove through the masses, leaving as soon as I could.
I swam today too, but wisely went around the time of siesta and it was wonderful. Honestly, I don’t know why I hadn’t thought of swimming later in the day when everything seems to be closed anyways – probably because I wanted to take a siesta of my own.
So rather than contemplating how the pool could use its lanes more efficiently, I’m going to start swimming in the afternoons… unless I have triple scheduled. Then I’m pretty much screwed.