Swimming lane etiquette


How do you approach a pool with no empty lanes?  Lap pools are busy places and building bigger pools is simply out of the question in most cases as the lap pool maybe the club's largest expense.  It is therefore necessary to get used to the idea of swimming with others especially if you can only get to the pool at peak hours.

Jumping in with a group of swimmers during lap swimmers can be scary.  If you are not
comfortable with swimming and just getting into it, this feeling can be amplified.  Which lane should you get in? How do you properly share a lane?  What does it mean to circle swim?

Understanding a few rules will help you get to your workout without to much stress and help you stay in everybody's good graces. 

First, when picking a lane you should look for to share with someone around your speed.  This helps as you are less likely to pass or be passed often if you are traveling at the same pace.  In some pools there are designated lanes for different speeds.  Most of the time you will have to evaluate the different swimmers and pick a lane to join. 

Once you have picked a lane, you need to communicate with the person or persons in the lane.  I have found that many swimmers make it hard to make sure that they know that you are there.  Don't let this be you.  The pool functions better if people can enter the pool quickly and get into their routine.  If you encounter a swimmer unwilling to acknowledge you the best bet is to slip into the pool while they are at the other end and wait until they get back down to your end.  Usually, this will be enough to get their attention.

At this point, you have to agree with your lane mates whether to circle swim or "swim sides".  Swimming sides is simply taking one side of the lane and swimming between the lane line and the line on the bottom of the pool.  Circle swimming is like driving and you stay on the right side of the lane switching sides when you get to the other end.  Again, swimming between the lane line and the line on the bottom of the pool is necessary.  Circle swimming is necessary if there are more than two swimmers in a lane. 

No matter which you pick, circle swimming or swimming sides, it is best to swim with a narrow arm swing.  By using a high elbow recovery and a good body rotation will move through the water more efficiently and protect yourself from hitting hand with with someone moving in the opposite direction which really stings.

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