Rules of lap lane swimming etiquette

There are no hard and fast rules for lap lane swimming etiquette. Nothing is written down near the pool, but there are a few unwritten rules to follow. Here they are:

  1. If you see an empty lane, jump in. It’s yours!
  2. If you don’t see an empty lane, try and find one with the fewest swimmers. Also, try and find a lane in which swimmers are swimming at about your speed. For a 25-meter pool, it is hard to accommodate more than 3 swimmers (4 is the max), but for a 50-meter pool, you can swim as many as 10! Also, for a smaller pool, it is expected that you wait for the swimmer(s) to stop and ask to share the lane.
  3. Generally, if you are only 2 swimmers in a lane, it is expected that you split the lane side-to-side. For 3 or more swimmers, you have to swim in circles.
  4. While swimming in circles, it is okay to pass a swimmer by lightly tapping the foot of the swimmer you are about to pass. If your foot gets tapped, slow down a bit to let the faster swimmer pass.
  5. While swimming side-to-side, refrain from doing the butterfly. You may poke someone in the eye (in spite of swimming goggles).
  6. Do not aqua-jog in a lap pool. If you must aqua-jog, join a class or go to an area of the pool that does not have swimming lanes.
  7. If you have kids who are not swimming laps, ask them to go to the kiddie pool.
  8. Do not bring balls or other throwing objects in lap pools.
  9. If you see cones marked with reserved lanes and times, be respectful of these as they are usually for a swimming club or masters folks. If you are a weaker swimmer, strive to join one of these groups; they are usually a lot of fun!
  10. When in doubt, ask an experienced swimmer (or a life guard).
Further, it is okay for men to wear a bikini-style Speedo while lap swimming, and women to wear bikini-style swimsuits. Just make sure that you are not showing off too much cleavage or your butt-crack. Reserve such display for the beach or the pool deck (I’m sure you will find plenty of oglers).
So why did I write up these rules? You guessed it. I swam today at Lifetime Fitness and shared a lane with a random guy who did not practice sound pool etiquette. I was a bit annoyed, but converted this energy into a pretty decent swim workout. Good for me!

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