Celebrating 5 years of Ironman participation

Swimming Etiquette

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There’s a certain etiquette that should be followed when sharing a lap lane in a pool.  One of the reasons I love swimming at USF Koret is that most of the patrons seem to understand these unspoken rules of the pool. Good lap lane buddies make it so much easier to get a 4,000 yd workout done.

In case you’re new to swimming, or just curious about the rules of the pool, here are a few basics on “switiquette”

  • Circle swim: If there are more than 2 swimmers in a lane, you should stay to the right and swim counterclockwise.  If there are just two swimmers in a lane, you can opt to split the lane.
  • Lane Speed: Most pools mark lanes as slow, medium or fast.  Not sure of your speed?  Just watch the swimmers in the lane and be willing to move up or down a lane accordingly.
  • Passing: It’s ok to pass a swimmer in your lane.  Just gently tap the swimmer’s toes and pass on the left.  If you are approaching a turn, the slower swimmer should stop at the wall and let the faster swimmer pass.
  • Stopping: If you are resting between sets, grabbing a drink, or having a chat (as I seem to do more surprisingly often), be sure to pull off to the side of the lane at the wall.  Do not block the lane and prevent other swimmers from completing their flip turns (especially by kissing in the lap lane!)
  • Entering the lane: This may differ at some pools, but I think it’s generally a better call to slide into a lane rather than dive in.  Use this time of entering the lane to confirm a circle or check where the other swimmers are in their workouts.
  • Be respectful of different workouts: In an ideal world, everyone in the lane would be doing the same workout.  My favorite pool days are still mornings at Eastern Market in DC where all the girls would show up and one would bring a workout to share.  At times over the past months, I’ve convinced a few guys at Koret to swim with me.  But, for all those other times, it’s really great when other swimmers are aware of when I’m watching the clock on a sprint set or I give the right of way to a swimmer while I kick.  Being considerate makes a huge difference in keeping your workout on track.

Other ideas or tips for making pool swims more pleasant?  Please feel free to share.  And, if you’re in the Bay Area, come join me at USF Koret on Wednesday and Friday mornings.   You can find me at the Presidio and Embarcadero YMCA’s from time to time too, but I think the lifeguards there could stand to enforce some stronger switiquette!



Author: sarabstro

My name is Sara Strope. I'm hooked on triathlons. I spend my days building a health tech startup, promoting organ donation, and producing events. Oh, and training!

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