Last week I witnessed some disagreements about the etiquette of lane swimming that ended with two people in tears and disrupted swimming for all those involved. This is such a shame because swimming is a fun and sociable activity which we do in our spare time to help keep us fit or set us up for a positive day ahead.
In the UK we have a limited number of swimming pools, and pool space is often crowded so it’s essential we find a way to negotiate the busy lanes so that it doesn’t take away any of the pleasure of swimming.
Timetables and lane arrangements are complicated so check this before swimming
Before starting take a look at the pool and identify any slow/fast lanes and which lanes are swimming clockwise or anti clockwise. If there are no signs then ask the life guards or other swimmers.
If you use fins, paddles or swim snorkels check the pool guidelines or with the life guard before using them (only a few pools in Coventry allow them).
Take a moment to notice what is going on in the pool, in particular the speed of other swimmers and how this compares to your own swimming.
Choose a lane that has people swimming about the same pace as you.
Look before you push off the wall, and judge the pace of the swimmers in front of you or those coming in to the wall so that you don’t push off into someone, or just as another swimmer is turning at the wall.
Usually the swimmer on the wall waits for a swimmer in action to complete their turn.
If a slower swimmer is in front of you, give them a big gap before pushing off so you have room to swim.
Only overtake a slower swimmer if there is no one coming the other way. Be careful over taking a slower swimmer close to the end of the lane in case they don’t realise you’re over taking from behind and turn and push off into you.
If you’re getting over taken keep swimming steady and try to avoid speeding up.
Be aware of the other swimmers in your lane, and if you notice a faster swimmer behind you getting closer, then let them past at the end of the lane.
If you’re resting try and rest to one corner of the lane so that other swimmers have enough room to turn.
If you’re going to practice some drills at a slow pace then consider using a slower lane for the drill section.
In some pools it’s common practice for a faster swimmer to touch the toes of a swimmer in front to indicate that they would like to pass. Personally I don’t use this during public sessions but if it happens to you try not to be offended.
In busy lanes accidental touching happens and its usually nothing more than swimmers being a bit clumsy or losing concentration. If you get bumped into try not to freak out. If you’re the clumsy swimmer then apologise and check the other person is OK.
I often have a limited amount of a time and a distance or speed target to reach during my swim so its easy to get frustrated with other people in the lane – but this just makes me cross and ruins my swim. So I check in my lane rage before swimming, and practice patience, tolerance and calm wherever possible.
This also helps my focus and makes me swim better.
If the lane really is overcrowded, then ditch your distance and speed swim, and take the time to practice your technique. Swimming slowly is a great way to learn balance and give your brain time to think and coordinate your body to move efficiently.