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Dos and Don’ts of Lap Swimming

If you’re a lap swimmer, chances are, you go to the pool for a stress-relieving workout, not a stress-inducing confrontation with the other person in your lane. While you can’t always choose your lanemates, you can improve your odds of having a fun, successful workout by following common lap swimming etiquette and maintaining a positive attitude.

In the words Josh Billings, an old-time humorist, “One of the greatest victories you can gain over someone is to beat him at politeness.” Stick to the following lap swimming etiquette, and you’ll be well on your way to victory.


  1. Follow the rules, regulations, and lap swimming conventions of the pool where you are swimming.
  2. Share nicely, and be flexible.
  3. Choose a lane where your speed matches (or is close to) that of the swimmers already in the water.
  4. Communicate with your lanemate(s).
  5. Circle swim when there are three or more swimmers in a lane.
  6. Be willing to split (share) lanes.
  7. If you need to pass a slower swimmer, tap their foot once as you approach the wall where you are planning to pass them.
  8. If a faster swimmer needs to pass you, pause briefly at the next wall and let them go by.
  9. If you are trying to follow a prescribed workout, coordinate your sets with your lanemate’s plan.
    (For example: “I’m going to do some sprints here. What are you doing?”)
  10. Keep a positive attitude.


  1. Interrupt someone's workout.
  2. Get in a lane where you will be much faster or slower than the swimmers already in the water, or get in a lap swim lane when you have no intention of swimming laps.
  3. Grab or repeatedly tap the foot of a swimmer you want to pass.
  4. Expect a slower swimmer to stop swimming mid-lap so you can pass.
  5. Pass someone and then slow down.
  6. Swim down the middle of the lane.
  7. Use another swimmer’s equipment without asking.
  8. Offer unsolicited advice on stroke technique.
  9. Push off the wall right in front of a faster swimmer, or push off the wall right on the heels of a slower swimmer.
  10. Practice your dives when sharing a lane, unless everyone in your lane is also practicing dives.

Do you have other tips for keeping the peace in the lap swimming lanes? Let us know in the comments below!

You can improve your odds of having a fun, successful workout by following common lap swimming etiquette and maintaining a positive attitude.
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