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**Swim Lane-Sharing Basics**
CREATED: 02/13/12 by abbyjs REPLIES: 12
abbyjs's ravatar abbyjs    JOINED: 4/7/09    POSTS: 699
**Swim Lane-Sharing Basics**
POSTED: 2/13/12 1:33 PM

It's that time of year when lots of folks head to the pools. Crowding can be dangerous, so it's always nice to refresh our memory on swim etiquette. Safety first in the water!!

[Yes, this means I got clobbered this morning.]

Lane Sharing Basics:

1) When there are only 2 people in a lane, the two people will typically "split" the lane and each stick to one side (no circling). This means when you are the THIRD person newly entering a lane, you MUST communicate with both swimmers so that everyone knows to start circling.

2) Choose the appropriate lane. Lanes might be empty when you arrive, but swimmers come and go. It's safer to stick to the speed-appropriate lane. If lane occupancy changes, consider shifting if necessary. (This is coming from someone who regularly swims in the second- or third-slowest lane, so don't take it the wrong way!)

3) In a short pool (25y) with multiple swimmers, it can be unsafe to actively pass. Thus, foot-tapping and yielding is a good way to go. The faster swimmer taps the foot of the slower swimmer they wish to pass, and the slower then pauses at the next wall and lets the faster swimmer go through. (Note to fast swimmers: no tappy, no yieldy.)

4) When resting at the wall, move as far towards the lane divide as you can to let other swimmers go through.

5) No butterfly when you are sharing a lane!

6) Fins and flippers can be dangerous! Pull buoys and paddles are fine if you are careful.

Anyone else have anything to add?

Wishing you an injury-free season!


courtr26's ravatar courtr26    JOINED: 2/28/09    POSTS: 119
RE: **Swim Lane-Sharing Basics**
POSTED: 2/13/12 3:08 PM

I would add become familiar with your pool rules. Washington/Lee in Arlington will not let you use paddles unless you are the only one in the lane. :( They are very anal about it unfortunately!


ncrcoach's ravatar ncrcoach    JOINED: 2/28/09    POSTS: 1101
RE: **Swim Lane-Sharing Basics**
POSTED: 2/13/12 6:15 PM

I found this article on the USMS website. Some of it may already have been repeated.

by Samantha Grant
October 1, 2005

After paying dues, and receiving that nation-wide passport known as the USMS card, immigrants to the People’s Republic of Swimming must realize that they have entered a new culture, with its own language and nuanced rules of etiquette. Unfortunately these rules are largely undocumented, and the immigrant may be breaking them left and right, whilst completely unaware.

To avoid making enemies of your fifth generation fellow swimmers, a few words to the wise for the practice or lap swim novice:

First, if there is an empty lane in the pool, take that one. Don’t join a swimmer in some other lane because you don’t “like” the lane that is free (eg: the lane against the wall). It creeps out and annoys other swimmers when there is an open lane that you didn’t take. This is the equivalent of sitting down next to the only other passenger on an otherwise empty bus.

Second, before you get into a pool with plenty of swimmers, try to figure out who is roughly your pace. You need not time their 50s to compare with yours, but if you are a novice swimmer, try and swim with another person who appears to be a novice as well. Signs to look for: they stop to rest at both ends of the pool; they aren’t paying attention to the clock; if female they are wearing a bikini, if male they are wearing knee-length board shorts.

Third, if you join a lane already containing one other person who is lap swimming, it is polite and appropriate for you to wait until they stop on your end, and ask if you can split the lane with them. Let that person chose which side they prefer, and make every effort to stay on your side. In the event that a third person joins your lane, the two in the water should to begin circle swimming counter-clockwise immediately.

Fourth, (and this is applicable to many advanced swimmers) if you are circle swimming with other people in your lane pay attention to where you push off the wall when you flip-turn. Envision yourself swimming down the right side of the lane, with another swimmer five seconds in front of you. If that person swims straight into the wall and flips such that her feet push off the right side of that big black cross, she will have to cut a very sharp angle to gracefully end up on the other side of the lane. She will narrowly miss crashing into you with each turn. If, conversely, she angles left into the wall, and pushes off to the left of the black cross, she can then streamline straight off the wall and is automatically on the correct side for the return lap. No near crashes. No need for you to give her ten seconds of lead time.

Fifth, if you are slower than anyone else in your lane, you must always yield to them. Never ever begin your lap as they are approaching your wall for a flip turn. Let them go first. If you notice that they are normally doing freestyle but end up stuck behind you and start doing breaststroke to slow down, you need to let them pass at the next turn. Consider move to a lane containing people your own speed. Remember that for many people this is their gym and you’ve just turned their stair-master down from a level 12 to a level 3.

Sixth, when you need a rest break, don’t stand at the end of the pool in the middle of the lane. Other swimmers need to use the wall for flip turns. To take a break, swim into the wall on the right side, and stay as close to the lane line as possible.

Seventh, if you are doing a set with a group of more than three people, pay attention to the person behind you. With three people, each person can touch the wall at the end of the set and look up to see his or her time. With four people, the third swimmer needs to move away from the wall so that the fourth person can touch the wall at the end. Usually the way this works is at the end of a set the first person touches in on the far left side of the lane. The second person touches in the center, and remains there. The third person touches to the far right, and then immediately moves to the center of the lane, no longer adjacent to the wall, so that he is pool-side of the second person. Now the fourth person can touch in on the far right. This seems complicated, but I’ve swum with upwards of 10 people in a lane, and it works if everyone plays along. With more than four swimmers, each additional person needs to move to the center of the lane after they touch in on the right.

Eighth, by all means don’t “borrow” your lane mate’s fins/kickboard/pullbuoy without asking.

With any luck, by following these rules a new swimmer can become a happy and productive member of our aquatic society. After all, we would hate to have to deport you back to the Nation of Jogging.


HappyRunner's ravatar HappyRunner    JOINED: 1/15/11    POSTS: 281
RE: **Swim Lane-Sharing Basics**
POSTED: 2/13/12 9:07 PM

1) When there are only 2 people in a lane, the two people will typically "split" the lane and each stick to one side (no circling). This means when you are the THIRD person newly entering a lane, you MUST communicate with both swimmers so that everyone knows to start circling.

What's the etiquette for this?

Like I walk up and the swimmer is currently in the lane doing what seems to be mile repeats. Do you get in the water and stand there so s/he sees you and gets the idea you want to join? Or do you wait on the deck however long it takes until s/he stops?

abbyjs's ravatar abbyjs    JOINED: 4/7/09    POSTS: 699
RE: **Swim Lane-Sharing Basics**
POSTED: 2/13/12 10:15 PM

You *have to* get in the lane. It's the only way people will see you. If you stand on the deck, you could be standing there for any number of reasons, and I'm not going to stop my workout to find out if you want to get in my lane.

Good luck!

kmwpro's ravatar kmwpro    JOINED: 2/28/09    POSTS: 317
RE: **Swim Lane-Sharing Basics**
POSTED: 2/14/12 9:50 AM

It's pretty easy to take a kickboard and wave it in front of the wall so the swimmer coming to flip sees it, pauses and acknowledges that a 3rd person is joining the lane. Then you don't have to completely interrupt their set by standing there in front of them like a zombie. This happened to me the other morning.

I think the main goal is common sense and courtesy which an unfortunate number of people seem to disregard when swimming in a crowded pool. Just pay attention to what's going on around you- if someone behind you is moving faster, let them pass. If you are doing kick, don't push off right in front of someone doing sprints. This kind of thing happens to me all the time. I just don't get it. Why is it necessary to be so oblivious to the people you are working out right next to?

Thanks for starting the thread, Abby. It's always good to remind folks to be conscious of group training etiquette.

abbyjs's ravatar abbyjs    JOINED: 4/7/09    POSTS: 699
RE: **Swim Lane-Sharing Basics**
POSTED: 2/14/12 9:58 AM

Karen, what a great idea. I never thought about waving the kickboard.

You're totally right on about just paying attention to the other people in the lane and not swimming oblivious. I'm a slower swimmer, and I think I learned to do that out of fear of chump-ism.

Thanks to everyone who has added to this thread!

HappyRunner's ravatar HappyRunner    JOINED: 1/15/11    POSTS: 281
RE: **Swim Lane-Sharing Basics**
POSTED: 3/15/12 7:06 PM

You *have to* get in the lane. It's the only way people will see you. If you stand on the deck, you could be standing there for any number of reasons, and I'm not going to stop my workout to find out if you want to get in my lane.

This has been a really helpful thread for a newbie like me. As you can probably tell, I swim mostly at midday when I usually have the pool to myself.

So lets say I'm the one swimming alone in the lane and some dude gets in the lane and stands there so I can see him, if I'm on a long timed set, do I actually have to stop? Would it be rude to just start swimming on one side of the lane and figure that is acknowledgement enough? I'd rather not break my set, but if that is the etiquette I would.

abbyjs's ravatar abbyjs    JOINED: 4/7/09    POSTS: 699
RE: **Swim Lane-Sharing Basics**
POSTED: 3/16/12 6:19 AM

What is "acknowledgement enough?" I've been in situations where I thought everyone was one the same page, and suddenly I'm getting collided into by someone who didn't realize that there were now 3 people in the lane...

Generally speaking, if I'm in the middle of a set, I will pause for at least one second at the wall to say "Split?" or give a thumbs up that I saw the person there when going from 1 to 2 people. Then I just make a clear decision about which half I'm taking by swimming on!

When we are going from 2 to 3, I find it important to stop and chat for 5 seconds, simply because I don't want to get clobbered. In this situation, I almost always check to make sure that everyone knows the foot-tap signal, generally by offering "if you are faster than me, just tap me on the foot and I'll yield." I find it friendlier to suggest that I'm likely the slowest one in the lane.

If they indicate that they don't know the foot-tap rules, I take the opportunity to explain it, and I feel like I've done my mitzvah for the day. And then, when it turns out that I'm faster, I don't feel like an ass for tapping and passing at the wall. :)

I'm probably more cautious than others in the water; I've struggled a bit with open water anxiety, and knowing that it's totally mental, I build my confidence by reminding myself on a regular basis that the water and I are friends.

Happy swimming!

badelson    JOINED: 1/22/12    POSTS: 10
RE: **Swim Lane-Sharing Basics**
POSTED: 3/16/12 7:36 PM

Can anyone tell me what the etiquette is when someone claims they were "next" for a lane (that only had two people in it, so I jumped in to ask if we could circle swim)? This happened to me recently, and it was just so bizarre. I asked the guy if he knew what circle swimming was and he said yes, so I have no explanation... is there something I'm missing?!

ballstoncyclist's ravatar ballstoncyclist    JOINED: 2/28/09    POSTS: 496
RE: **Swim Lane-Sharing Basics**
POSTED: 3/18/12 8:18 AM

Beth, was this at a county/public pool or at a gym? I ask because I used to swim at a gym and for some reason people did not circle swim at all. I never understood why, and there were no rules against it, but I just followed the unwritten rules of the pool and waited like everyone else.

If it's a county/public pool with clear rules that allow circle swimming I say show them the poster that explain how to circle swim (most pools have it).

BTW, at that gym I asked someone (woman) if she would mind splitting the lane. And we all know that is really a rhetorical question, but to my surprise she said "Yes". I asked why and why said she preferred not sharing a lane with a man. So sometimes you'll just get the odd swimmer that is impossible to work with.

badelson    JOINED: 1/22/12    POSTS: 10
RE: **Swim Lane-Sharing Basics**
POSTED: 3/18/12 7:41 PM

Hey - it was at Marie Reed in DC. Unfortunately there is no circle swimming sign there (they don't even mark slow, medium and fast lanes) so no can do except for, obviously, continuing to rage about it.

So weird that a woman wouldn't want to split a lane with you... People are so weird!

saubbie23's ravatar saubbie23    JOINED: 1/11/11    POSTS: 116
RE: **Swim Lane-Sharing Basics**
POSTED: 3/19/12 11:24 AM


I swim at Marie Reed all the time, and circle swimming is the norm there when it gets crowded, especially in the mornings and later in the evening. Maybe get the lifeguards to help out in that situation?

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