Swimming Tips For Beginners: Basic Gear, Pool Etiquette, and Overcoming Inertia

I learned how to swim when I was five years old, but for most of my life, swimming was just a recreational activity that happened when I went to the beach or community pool with my friends during Summer. It would be 19 years later when I decided to get a little more serious and start swimming to strengthen my health & fitness.

Swimming Tips For Beginners

When I began swimming again as an adult, I had all sorts of questions:

What kind of swimsuit do I buy? 

Are there certain rules I need to follow?

Will other people laugh at me?

Thankfully, my teammates at Kiefer gave me some valuable tips and advice on getting started and choosing the right gear. If you’re like me and just beginning swimming again, here is the gear and advice that helped me jump in the pool and get started.

Basic swim gear

What kind of gear do you need when you’re just getting started? Not too much. Here’s all you need to start:

  1. Swimsuit (Men | Women)
  2. Goggles (These are my favorite!)
  3. Sandals or Pool Shoes (for pool deck and locker room; like these swim shoes)
  4. Backpack (to store your clothes, towel, and accessories. I went with this one.)
  5. Swim Cap (If you have long hair. Click here to view our Swim Caps)

That’s it! If you are just getting started, keep it basic for now, and then move on to other swim training gear, like pull buoys, kickboards, hand paddles, etc. for more intense swim workouts.

Pool Etiquette

Your pool will most likely have some rules posted near the locker room. It’s a good idea to read these rules so you know how to conduct yourself at the pool.

Some basic pool etiquette includes:

  • Rinse off in the shower before jumping in the pool
  • Swim on the right side of the lane (if it is busy in the pool)
  • Be kind to your fellow swimmers

Overcoming Inertia

The biggest thing that surprised me when I started swimming as an adult, was the inertia I felt to actually getting in the pool.

Inertia is “a tendency to do nothing or to remain unchanged.” (source: Google). My inertia was due to two things: (1) thinking I ‘didn’t have time’ to swim because of my schedule, and (2) fear that I would make a fool of myself in the pool (and people would laugh at me).

Neither of these things were true.

What helped me overcome these two obstacles was this:

  1. Desire > Inertia: My desire to swim and keep my mind and body healthy eventually became greater than the inertia I felt resisting me from going to and getting in the pool. Yes, my schedule was busy, but my health is important, and I was determined to make the time to swim. (This desire will also help push you past any fear you feel to getting in the pool.)
  2. Baby steps: Just start swimming one day a week, and then move on to two days, three days, and more. When you start, you will gain momentum to keep going. Take baby steps and remember that one is greater than zero.
  3. Going at night: Where I live, most people swim in the morning and right after work. I’ve discovered that if I swim between 8pm to 9pm, I have the pool practically to myself! For me, I enjoy this more because I am an introvert.
  4. Going with someone: In addition to going to the pool at night (when no one is there), going swimming with my wife was a great way to eliminate the fear of other people’s expectations. If you have a spouse, close friend, or family member who wants to get into swimming with you, this is a great way to blow up your inertia and start swimming.


Swimming is great for your mind and body. Once you get in the pool for the first time and start swimming, you’ll wish you had started sooner. So start today!

What tips and advice would you share with those who are getting into swimming again? What recommendations on swimwear and swim gear do you have? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

Learn More Swimming Tips:

About Kiefer Swim Products

Performance Gear For Swimmers. Today Kiefer is a multifaceted company but still purely focused on serving the aquatic industry. We have expertise in engineering world class products like our custom starting blocks and racing lanes for all levels of aquatic facilities. We serve the lifeguard and aquatic safety and rescue industry with a full line of products that absolutely perform when you most need them to, and we serve the competitive swim business with the products needed to swim at the highest level.

11 Comments on “Swimming Tips For Beginners: Basic Gear, Pool Etiquette, and Overcoming Inertia”

  1. From infants to the elderly, everyone can learn swimming! It’s probably the most fun way to stay fit. Gear is very important… for comfort and confidence. Really liked what you’ve written about overcoming inertia. Keep writing… and swimming!

  2. I’m swimming for the first time as i’v water phobia your tips have helped me so much and made me worry less about me trying to swim so thanks for your tips , and i’m sure a lot of people are grateful for those tips .

  3. Why not sign up for an adult stroke clinic? Local YMCA’s and confining education programs through local school districts offer these and it’s a great way to learn to swim or learn to swim better. You’re with other adults facing the same challenges and the instructors are generally chosen for their expertise with adult learns who may have bad habits, never learned to swim or haven’t swam since childhood. I’m a YMCA lifeguard and our adult swim clinic instructor is amazing! She is knowledgeable and patient.

  4. This article could not appear on a better day as I am thinking of returning to the pool today. It has been almost one year since a STEMI nearly ended my life. For several months before that my swimming times had started to fall off. Having an average of 9000 yards per day with a five day workout week I just figured I had crossed the boundary to slowing down. After the initial recovery from the STEMI I was told I could return to swimming. I tried but found that it didn’t feel “right”. For lack of any real term to describe it. So I stopped swimming. Soon thereafter my condition got worse and during catheterization two dissections were found in the right coronary artery. With three overlapping stents to correct that situation I felt better but not great. Still I know something is kit right but a nuclear stress test and the advice of my cardiologist says I can swim. I am just scared beyond what words can describe. Having come so close to death, twice, and now experiencing similar feelings the only way to know is to get wet. It could be my death. I miss swimming so much. Just spending 2 1/2 hours everyday relaxing, stroke after stroke… Is great comfort for my mind. I am concerned… I imagine that is understandable to some.
    What piqued my interest about the article was what I had hoped would be a better explanation of how to share lanes.
    Anyhow, some younger folks called me “The Energeezer Bunny” because of my endurance. I can only hope that now I can finish out my 60’s and be back to swimming everyday. Then again, this may be a final Thank You Keifer…

  5. All the Master’s groups I have had the pleasure of training with take on novice swimmers. I have not yet had a negative experience with any of them. I know from coaching various groups of Master’s swimmers that you do get the occasional few that are VERY stuck in their ways. The gentlemen who have pushed you around may be that type. Don’t let them get to you! If you need help locating a team in your area do feel free to email me and I will see if I know someone to recommend.

  6. Hi Alexandra, I’m so sorry you’ve been yelled at or feel you have annoyed someone. It sounds like you are sharing a lane with multiple people and that can sometimes be tricky if you are all doing something different. Have you tried working out with a master’s group? Or perhaps swimming during a less crowded time so you can do your own thing could help. Some facilities have more space available than others so finding a ‘slow’ time can be challenging. If everyone worked together in the same lane doing the same workout it would certainly make life easier for everyone and there would be less stopping! But if all else fails try rising up to the next fastest lane to see if you fit into that crowd better.

    • Thank you for your suggestions, Emily. I think you are right that I should try to step up to a faster lane. I am investing in a pair of hand paddles that will keep me from slowing up other people. I do believe that the slowest lane should be reserved for those with significant limitations and I won’t let the bullies push me over there again. These were middle-aged men my age and in a lot worse shape than me, they just swim faster. I should have stood up for myself, fins or not.

      Do Master’s swim groups take novice swimmers? That sounds like it might be fun.

  7. Any tips for a slow beginner? I don’t feel comfortable in the slowest lane, the one for fragile elders and individuals with disabilities or injuries. (I have to stop so many times I don’t really get a workout.) How do I keep from annoying and getting yelled at by other swimmers?

  8. I am 65…I work as a meter reader….when I read meters….I walk between 15 to 18 miles daily…. For 10 days max out of the month…. The rest of the month I go swimming at the “Y”…. And it kicks my ass… The swimming keeps me limber… And helps when I return to my meter reading…. Walking and reading meters is not like walking in the park….good luck

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