Offering unsolicited "advice" to others is a great total d bag move! Never. Unless someone asks for help keep your mouth shut.
Were their opening comments in the d-bag category? Yeah, maybe not the best opening lines. The follow-up makes the difference. One was a nice guy who I didn't perceive as anything other than trying to be helpful. The other was an arrogant know-it-all.
You can never tell how the person on the receiving end will react to perceived criticism from a total stranger. I personally keep my mouth shut unless something else provides an icebreaker to start a conversation; then I'll ask if they want a bit of advice.
I agree with this, if it can be done in an non-patronizing and non-condescending manner then why not?
I swim in a YMCA where literally everyone in the pool (and its crowded at lunch!) is a terrible swimmer - I'm not good and I look like swim stud compared to their 2:00+ average pace with all sorts of horrendous in their form.
Still, I refrain from giving out (much needed) advice unless asked (which I never am.) The few times I've seen someone give advice freely in that pool without someone asking, they got berated for it - I think it comes across almost like bullying, like "I'm clearly SO much better than you, so...." And that person offering the advice was very nice about giving it, so it wasn't the delivery that was the problem.
Of course, in a different environment, like a triathlon club where everyone actively wants to improve, unsolicited advice is likely WELCOME! But in a pool environment, some (a vast majority, in fact) of ugly form swimmers just want to get their 'workout', form be danged.
At one of the non-YMCA pools I swam in, there's a lady who does a quasi freestyle, with long fins, thrashing to no end, with head popping out completely out of the water and rolling all over the place on every breath. It's literally the ugliest thing you've ever seen, it's so bad (hence the fins to keep her moving). Still, she's there EVERY day, and actually looks like she's' working very hard in the water, so I strongly suspect she has no interest in learning to swim 'for real', and is perfectly happy burning calories with her thrasher workout. I'm not gonna mess with that!
There's also an indian dude my age who uses a snorkel who swims every day at lunch - when we split a lane, I was going to offer him a tidbit of advice in that he didn't have to crossover so far that his right arm literally passes his left shoulder underwater on the pull (!!!) but he clearly wasn't interested, and took off on his ugly set the moment I was going to suggest.
Ok, looks like the majority of folks in this thread are on your side of the fence. See above however, I still feel like a reasonable delivery precludes you from receiving the "D-Bag" label and if they don't want to hear it, fine, move on.