Lane Etiquette

Aug 26, 2005
Lane Etiquette

Are you a lane hog? Here are ten rules of the road, guaranteed to make you the most popular swimmer in the pool.


Whenever you share a lane with someone, there are certain rules of etiquette that you need to follow. Lane etiquette is important to keep good friends from knocking each other's goggles off, bashing heads, and twisting their arms off at the shoulder socket. Lane etiquette helps practice run more smoothly. It helps you swim better, and it makes Coach happy. Here are ten rules of the road:

#1. Circle Swim. In most pools, this means swimming on the right-hand side of the lane. If you swim down the middle, you can bonk someone's head...or injure your shoulder...or mess up someone's concentration.

#2. Just before you reach the wall, if there's room, you can move to the center of the lane to do your turn, but make sure you push off along the right-hand side of the lane. Don't push off in the middle of the lane.

#3. Don't stop in the middle of a length! This can cause a pileup behind you. Try to keep going to the end of the length.

#4. If someone catches up to you, don't stop in the middle of the length to let them pass. Swim to the end of the pool and immediately get over to the far right so they can pass. Push off after they've finished their pushoff.

#5. If you're the one who wants to pass, be patient. Don't swim over top of the person, or try to speed around them. You could injure yourself or someone coming the other way. When you want to pass, gently tap or tag the toes of the person in front. This is the sign that they should stop at the end of the length and let you pass.

#6. Don't tailgate! Wait 5 seconds before you push off behind someone. Then, if you catch the swimmer ahead of you, tap their feet and go ahead of them at the end of the length. It's annoying if you stay right at their feet and don't signal to pass. Worse yet is to keep hitting their feet every time you take a stroke.

#7. No pulling on the lane lines! Fuggetaboutit. Just don't do this, OK?

Start and finish each swim at the wall. If you finish by stopping two yards from the wall, you prevent the people BEHIND you from finishing at the wall. Also, chances are good that you'll lose a lot of races. Swim races are won and lost by hundredths of a second. Practice a strong finish -- right to the wall -- every time you swim, and strong, fast finishes will be automatic when you race.

#9. Be aware of the others in your lane. Let your lane-mates finish their swims at the wall. Even if you have eight people in your lane, the last person has the same rights as the first person. Everyone should be able to finish at the wall and finish strong. So get out of the way after you finish!

#10. If you are leading your lane, you have responsibilities. Be a leader! That means you should have your goggles on and be ready to push off when Coach says, "Ready, GO!" It means you have to know the sendoff. You have to keep track of how many lengths you've swum and how many repeats you've done. This can be a challenge if you're doing, say, 20 X 25 or 10 X 50. One trick is to get your lane-mates to help. Do a group countdown. Get everyone involved in keeping track. You have to make sure everyone in your lane has a chance to finish at the wall. You need to encourage your lane-mates. Be a leader. Be aware of how others are doing. You need to set the example for speed and perfect technique, then help others along by encouraging them. You need to start the high-fives at the end of a tough set and at the end of each practice.

Go Swim!

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