triathlon and family can mix

Swim Etiquette

I am not British, but some etiquette rules just have to be followed.

When it comes to swimming, I often have come across the average joe out for a Sunday afternoon slow swim, at Thursday lunch. In my opinion, the local pools don’t do enough to educate swimmers on the proper ettiquete which will allow everyone to have an enjoyable experience. I am not talking about hard rules that have to be followed or you are kicked out, like peeing in the pool, but just the little things that will help out your fellow swimmers.

I have wanted to write this blog post for a while now, but struggled with how to write it in a positive way, not just complain. So I decided to share some of the rules I have learnt over the years in the pool.

Fast, Medium, or Slow Lane
Pick the right lane for your ability, not for how many people are in it. There is a reason why the fast lane is always less crowded than the medium or slow lane; because to consistently swim sub 1:40/100m, you have to be good. By picking the right lane, you make the workout more enjoyable not only for yourself, but for the others in your lane. No one likes to be a speed bump.

There is not a specific time divider, but I have found that if you swim around 1:40/100m, the fast lane is for you. If you swim 2:00/100m, it isn’t.

Turn Baby, Turn
Coming from a swimming background, I flip turn. That doesn’t mean that you have to do it too; it is the one thing that intimidates most swimmers. Actually, I think that the wall period intimidates most swimmers. What do I do when someone is coming? Should I push off now?

There will always be times when you will be resting at the wall. Unless you are the only one, or part of a masters class, the rest of the lane will continue on without you. You should always be resting at the right side of the lane (see next point).

If you are turing for another length (or 10) and there is no one in front of you, in the last 5m, move to the left of the black line, turn, and push straight off. This will help avoid the occasional collision and a potential face full of fingers. When you feel someone tap your foot or are coming to the wall for a rest, stay to the right side and rest there.

Pass Properly
I am about to get country for a second, so stay with me. Consider each swim lane like a two-lane, non divided highway. You wouldn’t pass when another vehicle is approaching in the opposite lane straddling the center line. So why is it okay in a swim lane? It isn’t. First question, are you actually swimming faster or just drafting? Drafting will reduce your workload by 8-10%. If you are swimming faster, polietly tap his/her foot (signal light), look to see if the opposite side is clear, then pass on the left. If the lane is not clear, tap his/her foot, wait until the wall, then when they pause to let you go ahead, go ahead.

Oh, by the way, if you feel someone tap your foot, stop at the wall and let them pass. I am pretty sure you figured this out, but if not, there you go.

Spacing
With a full lane, it can be tempting to push off right behind the swimmer in front of you. Please, resist that temptation. The rule of thumb is with 4 or less swimmers in the lane, leave 10 seconds between each swimmer. In a lane with 5 or more swimmers, leave a 5 second gap and try to stay on the toes of the swimmer in front of you.

Oh, and if you are grabbing a flutter board for a kick drill, good for you by the way, I hate kick drills, wait until all of the swimmers have left the wall. You are slow and you will become a speed bump.

Try some of these on your next workout if you don’t already. I am sure everyone will appreciate it.

Question: Any rules I missed?

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2 responses

  1. alexuponthewall

    Great post, completely agree with your points and it doesn’t sound like a rant. I’m not sure what the best way to educate everyone else of these rules – maybe some rules next to the lane direction board. Many a time I’ve struggled with slower people in the fast lanes and I’ve learnt that the majority of the time people will abide by these rules (basically have common sense, awareness and consideration) but 5% of people are simply just inconsiderate. The same applies to driving in the fast lane on the motorway, but in the pool you just need to bite your tongue or swim over them.

    January 1, 2014 at 11:53 am

    • Thanks for the comment. Glad it didn’t come across as a rant. I am lucky these days, swimming the a club has a lot of positives including not worrying about the ‘rules’.

      January 1, 2014 at 1:08 pm

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