Swimming is meant to be one of those easy but effective ways of getting fit. Less stress on the joints, full body workout and a great “mindful” activity to help you de-stress. Now on the whole I agree with most of these points. I am fitter than I have been in a long time and I will more than likely get out of the pool a little bit more relaxed than I got in. Muscles stretched, mind switched off for 30-40 mins as I let the water engulf me.




There is one thing that will set my blood boiling (and maybe the pool depending on how the inner bitch feels).




I’m not talking about those who do not shower first leaving a trail of body odour floating behind them for you to take a mouthful of – yuck! Or those who seem to think the communal shower is the best place to shave their body and clean their teeth (ok – not disgusting in a “I’m going to wretch way” but still a little… wooooh, we are in a shared public space, I don’t need to see your intimate routine way).


I’m talking about those who seem to have no special awareness of those who are also swimming around them – be it during a lane session or when the pool is a general free for all.


So in my best teachers voice, lets go over some of the commonly held tenants of pool etiquette in the hope of preventing a blood bath happening next time someone annoys me in the pool. Not only will it not look good for my cool & zen-like persona, I think it might annoy the pool staff as they will need to empty the pool of water and bodies and do a deep clean before anyone can swim again.


1 Pick your lane wisely

So this one will generally apply only when the pool is divided into lanes for the session, along with signs at the end providing guidance on the speed for that lane.


There are no hard and fast rules on the speed for each lane, so it does involve some common sense. If you are an Olympian in for a training session, I feel it would stand to reason that you probably should avoid the slow lane. At the same time, if everyone else in your lane is constantly overtaking you then you may need to consider dropping down a lane. There is no shame in this.


At the same time, if the fast lane is empty and the medium lane looks like the M25 at rush hour, feel free to move over. Just keep an eye out for anyone who gets in and move accordingly.


2 Overtaking

It’s a given we all do not swim at the same speed – admittedly that would make lane swimming a piece of cake but very boring. We are a diverse population and so is our speed in the pool.


For those joining an already active pool, stop for 20 seconds and check out the pace of everyone in the pool. There is nothing more likely to cause pool rage than hoping in the pool and pushing off in front of someone just at the end of their lap and turning. At the best you will probably get some choice words or bitch face. At the worst you may receive an examination you would only expect to get from your Doctor.


If you are in the midst of your lap and you know someone is close behind you (and by close…. I mean gaining on you and not swimming at the same pace as you), let them over take you at the lane end. Take it from first hand experience, there is nothing more frustrating than having to up your pace just to overtake someone. It kills your overall pace and the extra energy used to suddenly up your speed could result in fewer laps than planned.


It wasn’t till I started looking up pool etiquette for this blog post I discovered one apparently little know rule. If you are coming up close to someone in the pool and want to overtake them give them a gentle tap on the foot. It indicates you are there and they should let you pass at the end of the lap. I know if i did that in my pool now I would either get a slap or evil eye from the swimmer in front for making contact but I think that is possibly something that should be made slightly more public.


3 Socialising

Ok this one has the potential to get me a slap, but it needs saying. Yes….. us lane swimmers need to accept that people are in the pool to be social as well. If the pool is in general mode with no lanes I fully accept its a free for all. However, everyone need to pay attention to what is happening. Yes, I may be swimming freestyle with my head under the water most of the length of the pool but I am always conscious of what is happening around me and I fully expect you to be as well. There is nothing more frustrating than having someone suddenly walk in front of you at the last minute and you need to stop mid-lap.


When you are lane swimming and need to take a breather, make sure you are off to the side at the end of the lane – don’t block the entire end of the pool for a gossip. There is nothing more annoying than trying to complete your lap and searching for a gap in the crowd to launch your next lap from.


Swimming in groups and talking also has the potential to cause pool rage. If you are in the slow lane, I’ve no objection to you swimming side by side and chatting with your friend. It’s the slow lane after all… but start swimming 3+ abreast or stopping half way through the length to walk the rest or even worse – talk – and you are liable to have knives thrown at you.


Swim side by side in the medium or fast lane and there is potential someone will try and drown you.


4 Lane Rules

Ok this one is more a personal pet peeve than swimming etiquette but I know it causes some frustration in our pool.


Generally when it comes to lane swimming you will go up one side of the lane and come back down the other in a large circle and this works, well to the point that people will moderate their speed to keep the lane moving. But, at least in our pool, there is an unspoken agreement between at least the guys in the fast lane, that if there are 3 or less of you then we will just all go up and down taking a 3rd of the lane and it works. We are all varying speeds and it lets us focus on our swim without moderating ourselves or worrying about tumble turning into someone’s face. There is however one person who will force the lane to swim in circles even if there are just two of you in the lane – and she is the slowest person in the lane! Yes, I know she is sticking to the rules but it annoys a good few of us given she will slip into a slow breaststroke or stop at the end of the lane and start doing stretches.


Now I have worked through those frustrations I think it’s time for me to go and jump in the pool and work off those Christmas pounds.


Have a good swim!



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