How To Share A Swim Lane

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Lap Swimming Pool Etiquette 101

When you’re swimming laps in a pool, it is important to follow some basic etiquette, so everyone can enjoy their swim. The rules of swimming can be confusing and are often “unwritten”.

In this post, we’ll discuss how to share a lane with other swimmers, as well as how to follow common pool etiquette.

By following these tips, you can help make your next swimming workout more pleasant for everyone involved, so we can all enjoy the many benefits of lap swimming.

Happy swimming!

Share a Swim Lane
Ten adults successfully sharing one lap lane

Steps to Sharing a Swim Lane

Whether you are a beginner swimmer working to perfect your freestyle or an advanced swimmer knocking out a masters workout, we all follow the same rules for sharing a lane.

The below steps include common swim courtesy and the “unwritten rules” of lap swimming.

Identify The Lane

As you approach the pool, keep an eye out for any signage reserving lanes. For example, there may be programing for learn-to-swim or swim team workouts with lanes reserved. Avoid those lanes.

If there is an open lane, feel free to dive on in (as long as it is 6 feet or deeper, otherwise go feet first!).

Lap Swimming Pool Etiquette

If you want to be a good citizen of the pool, keep an eye out for anyone looking to join.

Extra bonus points if you stick to one side of the lane. This will make it more inviting for someone looking to join you.

If all the lanes are full, read on…

Enter The Shared Lane

Try to find a swimmer of similar level to share a lane with you. This step is not crucial, but can help.

The best way to get a swimmer’s attention is to climb into their lane waste deep (it may be cold, so no need to fully submerge). Wait in the corner until they come back to the wall.

If you instead wait from the pool deck to avoid the inevitable cold shock, that is okay too.

Just note that you may need to wait a few laps until the person your are joining stops at the wall to acknowledge you. This is especially the case when swimmers are doing flip turns or are swimming with a snorkel.

It is also not well received if you get someone’s attention by touching their feet when they flip. Even if you use a kickboard.

Once you get your fellow lane mate’s attention, you can determine which format you will use to swim: split or circle.

How to Split a Swim Lane
How to Circle Swim

Agree on the Format to Share a Lane

The most popular way with two swimmers is to split the lane.

Splitting the lane means one swimmer takes one side, while the other swimmer takes the other side. You can swim straight up and down at your own speeds without having to over-take each other.

If you instead elect to circle swim, then you do just that: swim in a circle.

Guide to Circle Swimming
Use this map to determine which direction to circle swim.

Lanes will need to circle swimming when there are three or more swimmers.

Keep these tips in mind when circle swimming:

  • If you stop to rest, move over to the corner of the lane so others can pass.
  • Rest in the left corner if you are taking a longer break.
  • Move to the right corner when you are ready to start again.
Circle Swim Guide
Graphic used for counterclockwise circle swimming, reverse for clockwise.
  • If you are slow, push off the wall soon after a faster swimmer.
  • If you are fast, give plenty of space before you push off to start your swim.
  • Consider your equipment choice. For example, everyone is slow when they kick with a kickboard or fast when they use fins and paddles. Do your best to match the speed of the lane.
  • Passing mid-lane is totally normal and okay to do.
  • If you need to pass, some swimmers will tap the person’s foot who they are passing to let them know it is happening. We advice against this and recommend just passing as quickly as possible down the middle.

If you are a slower swimmer and concerned about being passed, don’t worry about it. Fasters swimmers do not mind. It is not as big of a deal as you think it is.

At the end of the day, just be respectful of other swimmers and you will enjoy your swim workout at the pool!

And if you are able to, say thank you to the lifeguards focused on pool safety!

Additional Pool Etiquette

Keep lanes with easy access to stair and ladders available to swimmers who need them.

Put your pool equipment away and put your towel in the towel bin when you are done swimming.

Allow sunscreen to soak in for a few minutes before you go into the pool. This will not only help it absorb into your skin, but will also not decrease the pool’s clarity.

If you are looking to swim when it is less busy, reference the pool schedule and ask staff about trends. Understand there are no guarantees on pool usage.

How To Not Share a Lane

If you do not want to share a lane, follow the below steps…

And just so we are clear, this section is a satire, also known as: #NotAthleteApproved.

As soon as you get to the pool, mark your lane by placing your swim equipment at the end of it. This will reserve your lane while you take your time changing into your men’s swimsuit/women’s swimsuit.

When you are swimming, keep your head down and ignore anyone trying to get your attention.

If anyone calls you out on this, blame your earplugs or waterproof headphones.

If you are asked to share, let other swimmers know this is your lane.

Swim butterfly in the middle of the lane.

Use an extremely wide breaststroke kick.

Build a pool in your backyard.

Conclusion on How To Share A Swim Lane And Other Pool Etiquette for Lap Swimmers

Now that you know the basics of lane sharing and swimming etiquette, be sure to use this guide the next time you hit the pool.

Remember, by following these simple tips, everyone can have an enjoyable swim.

Do you have any additional questions about how to share a lane or follow pool etiquette? Let us know in the comments below!

*Equip yourself for success with our Athlete Approved Guide to Lap Swimming Equipment!*

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