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Lap Swimming Etiquette

Lap Swimming Rules To Ensure the Workout is Safe and Enjoyable for Everyone

There’s no question that the instruction provided by a coach can serve as a powerful motivation tool.

However, not everyone is available to participate in set squad session times, and not everyone wants to be a part of a social swim squad or feels the need to utilize the knowledge and expertise that a coach has to offer during their swimming workout.

All that being said, regardless of a preference for independent lap swimming or a structured swim squad program, a swimmer needs to be aware of a number of unwritten ‘etiquette rules’ which exist to ensure the swimming experience is safe and enjoyable (i.e. lane-rage free!!).

Swimming in Lanes

Firstly, when selecting a lane to swim in, a swimmer should take note of the speed and ability of those already swimming in that lane and choose the lane that is most appropriate for them (some pools will have Fast, Medium and Slow lane designations).

In a squad, the coach will assign the swimmer to a lane with swimmers of similar ability. Swimming in a lane may be compared to the experience of obeying the road rules while driving a car. In Australia, we drive on the left hand side of the road, and when swimming laps in a pool the swimmer should swim on the left-hand side of the black line drawn down the centre of each lane.

The best way to avoid a collision when swimming is to maintain a subconscious awareness of another swimmer’s presence (similar to defensive driving).

Never aggressively swim on the feet of other swimmers, and always allow a safe distance of approximately 10 metres or 10 seconds behind another swimmer or before commencing your next lap.

Overtaking Other Swimmers

Need to overtake someone? Let them know your intention by gently tapping their feet once before passing them. A swimmer who repeatedly or annoyingly touch the feet or legs of the swimmer in front might well find themselves the recipient of either an ‘accidental’ kick in the head, a mouthful of water from over-kicking, or perhaps even a verbal outburst.

A swimmer being overtaken should neither stop nor speed up! Instead they should maintain their regular pace, keeping to the left of the lane to allow sufficient room for the person overtaking to pass while avoiding a head-on collision with another swimmer coming in the opposite direction.

The overtaking swimmer should check ‘oncoming traffic’ before moving towards the centre of the lane (on your right) to pass.
Prior to repositioning at the left of the lane, the overtaking swimmer should be careful to avoid “cutting off” the slower swimmer by ensuring there is sufficient distance between them and the swimmer they have overtaken.

Taking a Rest

When taking a rest between intervals or at the completion of a lap, as swimmer should move across into the corner of lane next to the lane rope to allow enough space for an incoming swimmer to complete their lap or to turn and continue swimming as the case may be.

Where a swimmer is aware that their next lap is to be a slower stroke (like breaststroke or kicking) or is aware that the next component of their set squad program is not a personal swimming strength, they should allow other swimmers in their lane to swim in front of them.

This will assist in allowing all swimmers to swim continuously and without interruption. Following these simple lap swimming tips can help limit the risk of incident or accident when swimming in a squad or independently and, in turn, can help make the swimming workout an even more enjoyable experience.

If you are looking to join a swimming school in South Brisbane, try Hampton Swim School and start improving your swimming skills with us.

© 2010 Julia Ham/Hampton Swim School Pty Ltd