Swimming pool etiquette (also known as lap swimming etiquette) is a set of informal rules of conduct that ensure a smooth swimming experience when several swimmers share a lane.

Swimmers getting along in a crowded pool by observing swimming pool etiquette

Swimming pool etiquette allows smooth swimming in crowded lanes.
Image courtesy of El Engr

As a new (lap) swimmer you are often unaware of the existence of a swimming pool etiquette. Nevertheless, over time you’ll notice that the more experienced swimmers follow certain informal rules when they share a lane. So if you want to appear as a well-mannered swimmer and get along with other swimmers, it is important to get educated about lap swimming etiquette too.

Swimming Etiquette Rules

So let’s enumerate the rules you should follow while swimming in a lane:

  • Gauge the speeds of each lane and join the lane where the swimmers swim at your speed. This is because it is distracting for experienced swimmers to have to constantly pass slower swimmers.
  • If you are alone in a lane, you can swim following the middle line.
  • If there are two swimmers in the lane, it can be split into halves and each swimmer swims in one half of the lane. Or the swimmers use the “circle” format described hereafter.
  • If there are more than two swimmers in the lane, they should all circle in the lane. This is most often done counterclockwise.
  • When joining a lane, slowly enter the water and wait on the side during one lap until all swimmers have noticed that you will join the lane.
  • If you are the second swimmer to join a lane, discuss with the first one how you will share the lane.
  • Don’t dive into the lane from the starting blocks when you join a lane. This can be distracting or even flat out frightening for swimmers that are concentrated swimming their laps and don’t know what is happening. Normally, diving from the starting blocks should only be done during practice under supervision of a coach and when the lane isn’t used by lap swimmers.
  • If you want to pass a slower swimmer, tap him on the foot so that he knows your intention. He will then stop at the end of the lane and move to the right corner so that you can pass. Do the same if you are the person being passed.
  • Don’t push off the wall right in front of a faster swimmer. Let him/her pass first.
  • Likewise, don’t push off right behind a slower swimmer to directly pass him by. Leave him some room before pushing off.
  • If you chat with a fellow swimmer, do it on the sides of the lane to not obstruct the lane end for the lap swimmers. Do the same if you need to rest.
  • Don’t “borrow” a piece of swimming equipment that you haven’t brought yourself and seems abandoned. It may well be needed by one of your fellow swimmers very soon.

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