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Water Week: Rules of the Pool

August 10, 2011

I am sure I could probably count the number of times I have gone to the pool to swim laps on two hands. Because I did not grow up going to pool or ever join the swim team, I feel like I never learned the rules of the pool. The first day I started swim training I took a peek at the posted pool rules: No Running, No Diving yadda yadda yadda, but nothing about lap etiquette or other rules that conditioned swimmers know.

Now that I can at least put my swim cap on correctly, I figured I would research some pool etiquette so at least I can learn to play nicely.

Here are some overall basics I gathered from research from the US Master Swimming, open water swimmer and blogger Donal Buckley, and endurance athlete Art Hutchinson.

Check lane speeds: Lanes may be marked slow, medium or fast. Spend time observing swimmers already in the lane and choose according to your pace.

Joining a lane: Always choose an open lane if possible. When entering a lane, it is your responsibility to inform all other swimmers that you are joining that lane either by dangling legs in the water or standing to the side. At this time desired swim pattern can be determined.

Swimming pattern:

Split: Two swimmers in a lane may agree to split the lane meaning each swimmer gets on side of the lane and stays on that side. Both swimmers must explicitly agree to this!

Circle: Three or more swimmers must circle swim meaning always staying to the right of the lane. In this format, swimmers should never stop in the middle of a length.

Resting: If you are going to stop, move to the far side (ideally far right when facing the lane) of the lane to allow sufficient room for continuing swimmers to turn.

Speed & Passing: Slower swimmers need to yield to the faster swimmers in the lane. Push off almost immediately after a fast swimmer has passed, but keep back enough distance to let them turn safely. Move to side of lane to allow faster swimmers to pass.

When you want to pass a slower swimmer, tap the feet of the swimmer. Pass on the left. Faster swimmers should give slower swimmers a large head start.

My favorite rule from the US Master’s is to keep your fingernails trimmed, but by all means, PLEASE don’t clip them at the pool. Yuk. Not sure if anyone would do that. But don’t.

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