A gentleman’s guide to poolside etiquette

From sun lounger struggles to swimwear style, we’ve trawled the pool for problems and chlorinated the muddy waters of holiday etiquette

The swimming pool is a cultural institution — just ask Slim Aarons. But, since the effortlessly cool era of the iconic photographer, the waters have begun to turn.

Modern tech, from mobile phones to Bluetooth speakers, threatens the peace. Common courtesy has high-tailed it from the sun loungers. And, somewhere along the way, our sense of style seems to have forgotten to come up for air. What’s more, we’re all slightly out of practice at this louche art, thanks to a fallow year in 2020 — when plunge pools and cannonballs were replaced with Zoom calls (and more Zoom calls.)

But fear not. Here at Gentleman’s Journal, we’ve trawled our net through these present-day problems, and are on hand to chlorinate the muddy waters of poolside etiquette…

Throw cold water on your business calls

For most of us, the pool is a haven. It’s an escape from the everyday; an out-of-office oasis that serves as welcome respite from spreadsheets and the boardroom. So imagine our ire when, as we’ve barely begun to make headway with our tans, a workaholic rears his bronzed head, pulls out his iPhone and starts making calls.

It’s enough to put you off your piña colada. We don’t like loud chatters at the best of times, but the pool is meant to be a safe space — free from business jargon and talk of deadlines. In fact, the only KPIs we’re looking to hit on holiday involve a bottle of tanning oil and a pulpy airport paperback. So, next time your office calls while you’re by the pool, do everyone else a favour and send them to voicemail. Plus, there’s nothing worse than seeing a man in Speedos talk about ‘negative feedback loops’.

Ensure your swims don’t fall short

There are simply no excuses in this department anymore. Men’s swim shorts were once either below-the-knee baggy or circulation-cuttingly small, but recent years have seen countless brands wising up and diving into a rapidly growing style sector.

And, from Orlebar Brown to Frescobol Carioca, these brands have every corner of your poolside style covered. Tailored, refined and well-cut, we men can now make a style statement with our swim shorts rather than be embarrassed by them. So invest in the best, and you’ll turn heads for all the right reasons — rather than for luridly coloured, budgie-smuggling wrong ones.

Test the waters and act accordingly

For every public swimming pool in the world, there’s always one cannonballing anti-socialite. And, while these inflatable-loving layabouts are unlikely to disappear any time soon, our advice is simple: ensure you’re not one of them.

Keep your cool, read the pool and you’ll be fine. If it’s a laid-back atmosphere, where everyone is tanning, reading and slowly sipping their long cocktails, then don’t turn your music up too loud. But, if the tunes are on and people are busy dancing and dive-bombing, it’s probably time to put down the paperback and join in.

Avoiding the shower just doesn’t wash

There’s a special place reserved in hell for people who don’t shower before taking a swim. It’s general cleanliness, people — yet some still refuse to sluice off their sweat and suncream before slipping into a shared pool. Don’t be one of these people.

Instead, even if it’s just a cursory rinse, jump under the poolside shower — there’s always a poolside shower — and show that you’ve considered your fellow swimmers.

Don’t be a sun lounger scrounger

This one’s a grey area. Legend has it that no-one knows the true rules of sun lounger etiquette — but we’re here to shake any uncertainty out of the beach towel and lay down our poolside edicts.

Firstly, don’t leave your possessions on the sun lounger for longer than an hour if you’re not there yourself. That’s selfish. Secondly, don’t get up at the crack of dawn and stay on the same lounger all day long. Not only will that deny others the chance to get their bronze on, but it’s incredibly unhealthy to be in the sun for that long. Thirdly, and this is an important one, always lay on a towel. Always.

Not heading far afield for your dip this summer? Here are some top tips if you’re planning to lounge around the Soho House pool this summer…

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