10 Swimming Etiquette Tips for Sharing the Pool

How to tackle sharing a lane without making swimmers mad

Don’t be “that swimmer”. We all know who that person is. It is the swimmer who joins at the wrong time, takes you out with an enormous butterfly stroke, and stops in the middle of the pool. I think some pool etiquette tips are in order if you want to survive the season. Here is a list of 10 swimming etiquette tips when sharing the pool.

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Get in the Correct Lane

lap swimming
Getty Images / David Madison

This is huge. Before you dive in, take a look around. Who is swimming where and at what speed are they swimming? Choose the lane that best matches your preferred swim speed of skill level. Do not be the slug in the fast lane, and don’t lap swimmers in the slower lanes.

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Don’t Jump in the Middle

When you enter the pool, get in on the shallow side and wait for a clear entry spot. Do not jump right in the middle of a lap. Wait until the lane is clear of swimmers and enter when you have plenty of space to do so.

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Don’t Get a Free Ride

If you are going to pass, pass already! No drafting. Don’t get a free draft ride on the toes of the swimmer in front of you. If you do need to pass the swimmer, do so on the left of the swimmer. Alert the swimmer to your intention by tapping him/her on the toe before proceeding around.

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Split the Lane

If you are sharing another lane with a swimmer, split the lane and stick to your own side. It’s similar to when you are your sibling(s) drew a line down the middle of your bedroom. You stay on your side at all times. No crossing. To help you stay in your own lane, keep your eyes on the lane. For goodness sakes, keep your limbs in your lane, too. Be aware of where your body is at all times. No one wants an arm in the face.

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Circle With Three or More

 If there are more than two swimmers, you cannot share a lane. You have to circle swim. Do not swim clockwise! It is customary to stick to the right and to swim in a counter-clockwise direction.

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Get out of the Way

You can still be in the way when you are not in the pool. If you are out of the water, stay away from the pace clock. No one wants you standing in front of it and clocking their view.

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Stop and Wait Only on the Wall

Do not stop during a lap or rotation. If you need to stop, do so only when you reach the wall. If you are entering the pool with other swimmers, wait on the wall until it is clear to enter. If you are the slower swimmer, and you can feel the faster swimmer gaining on you, wait on the wall until the swimmer has passed you.

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Don’t Hog the Wall

When you are stopped on the wall, don’t hang out in the middle. Move to the corner. You should take up less space than the faster swimmer needs to turn. When waiting on the wall, provide the other swimmer with the middle one-third of the wall for turning.

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Put Your Gear at the End

Don’t fight over kickboards. Know where yours is at all times. To do that, make a nice pile at the end of your lane. That way, when you and your teammate reach the end of the lane and go to reach for the board, you aren’t playing tug-of-war like 5-year-olds.

And when you are done, put it away. You are a grown-up, and not putting your equipment away is dangerous and rude.

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Don’t be a Snob

Don’t be a lane snob. You have to swim with others, deal with it. Yes, I know swimmers can be anti-social. It’s good for the mental focus, but it isn’t good for swimming with others, especially in public pools. If you are in a public pool, you have to get over the irritation with having to share the lane with more than one other swimmer, and you have to be okay with the unique – yes, that’s the word for it – a medley of different swimmers who insist on floating in and out. If you don’t like it, maybe you can show up earlier or later than the others.

Sharing can be tough, especially if you are a skilled swimmer sharing the public pool with, well, everyone else. If you are lucky, you will get to share a lane with another trained swimmer, but don’t bet on it. Keep these tips in mind to avoid a poolside confrontation