Following a previous rant on the subject of lane swimming, I decided to do a quick explanation of lane swimming etiquette. None of this is original to me, these are the rules that club and lane swimmers around the world follow, but which seem a mystery to everyone else. The result is the site’s most popular article, and since LoneSwimmer.com is predominantly about open water swimming, the irony isn’t lost on me. Non-, and beginner swimmers are sometimes appalled to discover that faster swimmers should have the right of way. Anger by slower swimmers to faster swimmers cause at least as much anger as faster swimmers feeling they are being deliberately impeded by slower swimmers.
Rule 1: Never get in an occupied lane if another is empty.
Rule 2: Never get into an occupied land without letting the person/people already swimming know you are entering.Do this by dangling your legs into the water or standing to the side at the end of the lane when they are turning.
Rule 3: If there is only one other person in the lane, the lane can be split with each person taking half the lane. But you *must* explicitly agree this. Otherwise assume lane/circle swimming.
Rule 4: Once a third person joins, circle swimming must start. Make sure both people know you are joining.
Rule 5: Circle swimming is dictated by the fastest person present, not the slowest, biggest, or first in. Take note of the swimmer’s speeds before you enter. Direction is often pool specific. Check for direction signs or ask.
Rule 6: Do NOT turn or push off in front of faster swimmers. Faster swimmers should allow slower swimmers as much time as possible before starting.
Rule 7: Tap feet to pass. The person whose feet are being tapped moves out of the way to the corner at the lane end. Do NOT speed up if you are being passed.
Rule 8: The slower swimmer in front must move to the side of the lane end to allow faster swimmers to pass. Allow them to turn at the centre of the lane wall. if there are more than one, allow all faster swimmers behind you to pass.
Rule 9: Do NOT start swimming immediately behind another swimmer. They will not know you are there when they are turning. Injuries will result.
Rule 10: Swimmers resting at lane end should stay as far to the side of the lane as possible.
Rule 11: If the lane has a few swimmers doing long-axis strokes (front crawl, back stroke) do NOT do short axis strokes (Breastroke, ‘fly)
Rule 12: Be polite. Communicate. Do your best to explain the etiquette. Remember most lifeguards don’t seem to know these. Most pools don’t have them posted.
I realise this is a long list though, and may be impractical.
Giving it some thought, I wondered what would be an effective but much shorter list of Three Essential Rules?
One: Never get into an occupied land without letting the person/people already swimming know you are entering. Do this by dangling your legs into the water or standing to the side at the end of the lane when they are turning. Never stand in the centre of a lane.
Two: Fastest person present has right of way. Note other swimmer’s speeds before you enter. Direction is usually pool AND lane specific.
Three: Do NOT start, turn or push off in front of faster swimmers. Faster swimmers should allow slower swimmers as much time as possible before starting. Don’t turn into oncoming swimmers.
But is even that brief enough?
Surely we can have a Golden Rule of Lane Swimming.
Be aware of and adapt to what is going on around you.
EDIT: (Feb 2016)
Added an Infographic of this that you can print in high resolution, laminate and give to your local pool. Maybe getting it for free will convince them to put it up and make life better for them, and for you. Download the print version from here.
- Should slow swimmers have the right of way in lane swimming? Really? (loneswimmer.com)
- Should you be in the fast lane? (loneswimmer.com)
- Swimming Etiquette (owswimming.com)