LIFEGUARDS are to be trained to handle violent and verbally abusive patrons after an explosion in pool rage at the state's swimming venues.
The Royal Life Saving Society of NSW, which trains 3000 pool lifeguards a year, said it planned to introduce conflict resolution instruction in its courses next year.
The society's aquatic and safety services manager Grant Davis said the move was in response to a national survey of pool managers that showed most guards were verbally abused on a daily basis and some were being struck by patrons.
Arguments are breaking out among lap swimmers over swimming speeds and lane etiquette, forcing lifeguards to intervene.
"There have been lifeguards physically assaulted," he said. "There have been lifeguards thrown in pools."
Mr Davis said the society had polled 200 pool managers and guards across the country in the past three months to find out what areas of training they wanted boosted.
The overwhelming response was better methods of dealing with pool aggression.
"It's definitely on the rise and lifeguards are having to deal with bad behaviour rather than their main role of supervision," he said.
Mr Davis said one of the causes of aggression towards guards was lane rage incidents between swimmers, which spilled over to involve others.
He said guards were forced to intercede when lap swimmers disagreed about what was an appropriate speed for a lane or bickered over perceived breaches of etiquette. The clashes could turn violent.
"A lot of pools these days are increasing their leisure areas and swimming school areas," Mr Davis said. "This takes away from the lap swimming areas which means people are forced into a smaller area and this brings about pool rage. It's always been an issue but it's becoming more and more common."
As a swimmer I haven't seen above mentioned cases of lane rage. However the "taking away from lap swimming areas" I have seen. Regular aqua aerobics sees a the burly looking aerobic nazi woman barking orders through a clip on amplifier, playing Bon Jovi and bad techno to around twenty people in the pool. Signs on the wall say something along the lines of "During aeobics ecercises the windows in the Swimming centre will be closed. We apologise for inconvenience this has caused.". Three lanes closed.
Summer sees the bringing out a large inflatable jumping castle sort of thing......three or four lanes closed.
School trips take four lanes.
"Squad on some nights takes about 5 lanes leaving three lanes at night.
I usually try to go swimming off peak. It's cheaper and quieter.......I'll often have the whle pool to myself. I haven't had to lane share much and when I do it's usually pretty civilised, suppose it comes with my height people tend to shy away from starting anything!