Lap Swimming Etiquette

“It wasn’t so much what did I want to do. It was who do I want to be.” – Diana Nyad

New Swimmers – Don’t Be Shy!

To an inexperienced swimmer, getting started with lap swimming may feel awkward, intimidating, or even overwhelming.

Never fear, I’ve got essential advice to make your entry into the world of fitness swimming quick, easy, and rewarding.

Follow these tips to learn how to share a lane and rule the pool!

Choosing A Pool Lane

You’ve made it this far – you’re standing on the pool deck with your swim gear – but there are no vacant lanes. What next?

  • Don’t Wait for an empty lane – it may never come. You’ll end up blowing your precious workout time watching other swimmers jump in and share lanes.
  • Find A Lane with a swim pace that is closest  to the speed you can sustain for the duration of your swim workout.
    • Bonus Tip: Check for signs – sometimes pools post signs that describe lane speeds.
    • Extra Bonus Tip: Don’t worry about being slow. Faster swimmers have spent enough time in lap lanes to know how to swim with swimmers of all speeds.
  • Place Your Swim Gear within reach so you can access it without leaving the pool.

Entering The Pool Lane

Okay, your big moment has arrived. This is usually the most stressful part of getting started – but it doesn’t have to be if you read the following steps and guidelines to pool lane sharing.

You may encounter different swimming scenarios every time you share a lane – knowing how handle different situations will allow you to blend in with more experienced swimmers.

  • Get In And Stand in the corner of the lane. This may seem bold, but it isn’t. You’re here to swim – make your presence known before swimming.
    • Bonus Tip: Be patient – swimmers may not stop to acknowledge you immediately if they are finishing a swim workout set.
    • Extra Bonus Tip: If getting in seems intrusive to you, drop a leg in the water or wave a kickboard to get noticed.
  • Observe The Swimming Pattern in your lane. Swimmer’s will be swimming in one of two ways – “Split or Circle.
    • Split Swimming: Each swimmer swims on a single side of the lane. This should be discontinued if there are more than 2 swimmers in a lane.
    • Circle Swimming: 1 or more swimmers swim in a counterclockwise circle around any lines on the pool floor.
  • The Swimmer Joining The Lane is responsible for confirming the swim pattern. Here are the scenarios and appropriate actions before swimming:
    • When joining a lane ‘split’ by two swimmers: notify both swimmers that Circle Swimming is needed.
    • When joining a lane with a single swimmer: discuss and choose a Circle or Split swim pattern.

The Pool Wall – Pushing Off, Turning, Resting / WAITING

  • Pushing Off: Let faster swimmers pass before pushing off. If you’re the speedster, give slower swimmers an appropriate lead to limit the need to pass.
  • Swim Turns:
    • Split Swimming Turns: are performed on each swimmer’s side of the end wall.
    • Circle Swimming Turns: are performed at the center of the end wall.
  • Resting: Rest or wait in the  corner of the swim lane, (oncoming swimmer’s left preferred). In crowded lanes, stack down the lane from the corner, staying as close to the lane line (or side wall) as possible.


  • Getting Passed: A tap on your foot may mean that a swimmers intends to pass you.
    • Bonus Tip: Don’t feel bad or abandon your workout if you are being passed. Passing is a normal activity in any busy swim lane.
    • Extra Bonus Tip: Do not increase your pace or race the passing swimmer.
  • Passing Another Swimmer: If you have more than 15 meters left in your pool length, gently tap the swimmer you’re hoping to pass and proceed to pass on the left.

Be A Considerate Swimmer – Don’t Be Chatty

Lane Hogs - Lap Swimming EitquetteYou didn’t come to the pool to talk. Limit conversation to topics necessary to coordinate the workout. Reserve chatting for after you’ve left the pool.

See? It’s really not that bad!

Swimmers are generally very friendly – so get to the pool and go for it.

It would be my honor to get you started with lap swimming – please contact me with an questions.

See you at the pool,


Learn More Swimming Tips:

About Robin Kiefer

Robin Kiefer is the Grandson of Adolph Kiefer, the Founder of Kiefer Swim Products. Today Kiefer Swim Products is a multifaceted company focused on serving the aquatic industry, lifeguards, and swimmers.

4 Comments on “Lap Swimming Etiquette”

  1. Some more advice-don’t get in a lane with someone who is much faster than you. For example, if there are two swimmers in a lane who are swimming at a 1:20/100 pace, and three swimmers in a lane swimming at about 2:00/100 and you swim at 2:00/100, don’t get in the faster lane even though there are less swimmers. Get into the lane most appropriate for your ability level, and the lap swimming will flow much better.

  2. Thanks for publishing this! I will be sure to share once we are operational this spring! Keep up the awesome blogging!

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