Friday, July 12, 2013

Lap Swimming Ettiquette

Wednesday night, I finally got back in the water. Swimming, shockingly, is my first sport love. Cue the angels singing:

Well hello there old friend.

As is always the case, there was some questionable etiquette happening. I'm not saying this to be rude, I'm saying it because sharing a workout space should be enjoyable for everyone. By not understanding the rules and etiquette, you can really frustrate or even hurt a fellow swimmer. Wednesday night I got cut off and passed by a swimmer because she thought I was slow; however, it was the gentleman in FRONT of me that was holding us up. I swam behind her for four laps before she gave up and realized that I was then being held up by her. There were also people in my lane who decided to not bring goggles. Or, they decided to walk half of the lap because they haven't swam in a while. All these things could have frustrated me, but I decided to write a blog instead of being upset...hopefully it will help some swimmers be great neighbors in the pool!

Me thinking, "THAT was an interesting swim!"

Etiquette Number One: Wear a swim cap and goggles. I know it cramps your style, and goggle eyes at work aren't attractive, but these items are like your socks and sneakers in the pool; you can't go on without them! Goggles will help you see your lane marker underwater, and your cap will keep your hair from (inevitably) falling out and distracting you. (I know this seems obvious, but after last night, well, I had to say it!)

Goggle eyes. EEK. Product reviews by the pool.

Etiquette Number Two: Be honest about your pace. This is NOT the time to think that you can roll with the big dogs. Serious swimmers get very upset when little lowly people like myself decide I'm ready to freestyle with the semi-professionals. (Those swimmers have every right to's like me trying to run the NYC marathon with the wave one! I'm a wave three kind of girl!) The key is to ease in by watching the swimmers for a few minutes, then choose a lane that seems completely doable for you. If the swimmers in the lane are slow, then move to a lane that seems to have a faster pace. My pool has lanes from left to right marked as a walking lane, slow lane, medium lane, and fast lane. The further right you go, the faster each lane within each category gets. I usually join the fast lane, but on my first return I settled into the medium lane. I slowly moved my way over to the fast lane, realizing that a lot of people were not honest with themselves about what lane they should be in. 

Obviously not my pool, but you get the idea. Via 

Etiquette Number 3:  Share the lane. My pool is a free public pool. Many people take advantage of it, which I think is fantastic. However, this means sharing a lane is mandatory with 5-10 swimmers. General etiquette is to have the lane marker be on your left side. You don't swim ON the lane marker, you swim next to it. That way, a swimmer coming from the opposite direction can equally share the space with you. Drafting is something that could help or annoy your fellow swimmer. Drafting is when you swim close behind another swimmer to benefit from them paving the way in the water. I was drafting with another swimmer (who I had just met at the pool!) and we agreed to take turns drafting. Otherwise, I could have thought she needed to pass me or vice versus, so communicate if you want to try to work with someone. Passing, however, is more of a silent move. You warn the swimmer by tapping them on the foot, and the swimmer should NOT speed up as you pass. I had a gentleman who got passed by my drafting partner, and clearly did not want another female passing him. He tried to beat me to the wall, which resulted in my almost getting punched by an unsuspecting swimmer in another lane. 

My pool is seriously this crowded. At least it's a 50m pool!

Etiquette Number Four: Be aware. Be sure to check how far you've drifted away from your lane marker, notice swimmers on your left and right, and try your best to stay consistent with your strokes and breathing pattern. This will help you react quickly if something happens. For example, I didn't realize that the aforementioned gentleman had stood up to walk a bit (?), and I ran right into his back. I had not raised my eyes to look ahead of me because I didn't see any bubbles, which signals that you're getting close to someone who is kicking/swimming in front of you. It was harmless, but if I had been more aware I could have simply swam around him...and avoided the passing duel. 

So, get in the water! For more practical information, check out this post for some more great lap swimming etiquette advice.


How about you? Do you swim laps? Any advice? Do you prefer to be in a floating device when at the pool? Have you ever tried aqua jogging? TELL ME ABOUT IT!

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