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:
- If you see an empty lane, jump in. It’s yours!
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- While swimming side-to-side, refrain from doing the butterfly. You may poke someone in the eye (in spite of swimming goggles).
- 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.
- If you have kids who are not swimming laps, ask them to go to the kiddie pool.
- Do not bring balls or other throwing objects in lap pools.
- 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!
- 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!