Lane Etiquette for Lap Swimming

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If you are training for a triathlon, it is likely that you prepare for the swim at least partially at a pool where you join in with other lap swimmers. It can be confusing as to what the “rules” are when you get in a lap lane with one or more other swimmers. Here are some tips so you don’t have to be worried about being the clueless newbie!

1. Jump in the empty lane if there is one. It’s annoying to others if you jump in the lane they are swimming in when there is an open lane available.

2. If you are joining a lane with other swimmers, observe their speed and get in the one that is closest to your own. No need to get out the stop watch, but you can avoid a lot of frustration if you scan the field of swimmers first.

3. Ask to share a lane. If you want to jump in a lane with someone else, just wait for them to stop on a wall and ask them if you can share the lane. 99.9% of the time they will be polite about it and let you in! Once you get in, make sure you are circle swimming in a clockwise rotation (counter-clockwise if you’re in Australia!), and leave at least 5-10 meters between yourself and the other swimmer(s).

4. If you are circle swimming with others, pay attention to where you push off the wall on your turn. Just make sure to avoid collisions, especially if you are doing flip turns!

5. Always yield to the faster swimmer. Let them pass you and stop on the wall to allow them to go ahead if possible.

6. If it’s a crowded lane, don’t be tempted to do a long kicking set where people have to continually pass you up. (especially don’t use a board!).

7. Avoid touching the feet of slower swimmers in front of you. Unless they are refusing to let you pass, make an attempt to go around them and they will usually stop to let you go (hopefully they have read these tips!).