Friday, January 13, 2012

Jordanian swimmers pull on lanelines, too

Maybe that's why they're so much faster than me?

Over the last few months, I've had the privilege of training with Jordan's national swim team. They're a group of 20-30 athletes, male and female, ranging from perhaps 12 to 21 years old. They're good. I can barely keep up. Though that's partially due to Jordanian falafel.

It's crazy to see how international swim culture is. I was made fun of for being really pale (story of my life), found out that other swimmers wear my goggles (speedo vanquishers), and got lectured to hold a good streamline (streamline kwayyis!) off of each wall.

We swim in an indoor pool just outside of a major athletic complex in the center of Amman. Guys and girls swim together (ya haram!), but avoid touching. Typically, in the States, if you need to pass someone swimming in your lane, you touch his/her foot, he/she swims closer to the laneline, and you pass. Here, swimmers either stop on the wall to let people pass, or turn around in the middle of the lane. (The no-touching rule makes accidental backstroke-groping much more awkward.)

Swimsuits are essentially what you see on swimmers in the US. Guys wear speedos. Girls wear one-pieces. (Unfortunately, you can't really tan indoors.) Unlike my well-lit pool at Wellesley, my pool in Jordan doesn't have big windows. Walking around in a swimsuit is pretty provocative by average Jordanian standards, so we'd probably get a lot of guys from the street hovering to catch a glimpse inside...

Most of the swimmers on the team speak English and come from comparatively liberal families. Many are Christian--a disproportionate number given how small the Christian minority is in Jordan (about 6%). They're ridiculously nice people, and I'm really grateful to have a place to swim!

Sports Center with my (indoor) pool

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