Mind Your Manners: Lap Swim 101

Pay attention, beginners! (And enjoy the refresher, veterans.) A quick lowdown on lap swim etiquette.

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There are countless rules that apply to swimming in the pool, but unfortunately, these rules are not written down, publicized, universal or common knowledge to the new swimmer. Here are a few of the most important rules to abide by if you want to keep fellow swimmers on your good side at the local pool:

Share a lane with swimmers of similar ability. If there are no “slow, medium, fast” signs for self-seeded placement during solo workouts, scan the available lanes to find swimmers who look comparable to your skill level. Or just ask for permission to join that specific lane. If it’s a coached workout, go in knowing your comfortable pace for 100s so a coach can help you find your place.

Circle swim! Circle swim! Circle swim! This cannot be emphasized enough, especially in popular and crowded pools. Swim on the right side of the lane (in both directions), between the black line and the lane line. Do not swim directly on top of the black line. Don’t be a lane hog—swim on a single side!

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Check for oncoming traffic. Don’t push off the wall until you’re sure everyone sees you, and be sure that no swimmers are about to turn and push off at the same time. Allow the people mid-swim to turn before you start a comfortable distance behind.

– Tap gently to pass. One polite tap on the foot of a swimmer in front means the rear swimmer would like to pass. The front swimmer has the option of continuing to swim but should move closer to the lane line or stop at the wall to allow the pass to occur. The swimmer making the pass has the obligation to pass quickly by swimming in the center of the lane and being conscious of oncoming swimmers.

Rest out of the way. Be aware of where you are on the wall during rest. Slide to one side of the lane to give turning swimmers enough room to complete their turn without bumping into you. Use the area on the side, or sit on the deck to put on and take off equipment.

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