A few shared conventions observed by everyone can help make lap swimming safer, more pleasant, and more efficient for all.

For pool managers, the tips listed below can significantly increase the enjoyment and safety of their facilities.

Lap Swimming Etiquette Tips

  • Stay constantly aware of other swimmers’ presence
  • Explicitly inform other swimmers of your intentions
  • When circle swimming – let the other swimmers know upon entering the pool that you are sharing the lane as to avoid collisions
  • Apply common sense at all times
  • Allow 5 or 10 seconds between yourself and the swimmer ahead of you
  • When entering the water:
    • Make note of “Fast, Medium, and Slow” lane designations.
      • If a ‘fast, medium, and slow’ lane signs are not present at your pool, ask a lifeguard
    • Spend a few minutes to observe and time the per-lap pace of swimmers already in the pool
    • Select a lane containing swimmers moving as closely as possible to the pace you are most comfortable swimming
  • An overtaking swimmer should gently touch the feet of the swimmer being overtaken
  • Swimmers enjoying a draft behind a strong lead swimmer, but who are just barely able to hold that pace should think twice before tagging the leader’s toes and requesting to move ahead.
  • Drafting swimmers who do not wish to pass should swim far enough back from a lead swimmer that they don’t inadvertently touch the lead swimmer’s toes.
  • Overtaking swimmers should not attempt to swim ‘wide’ past a slower swimmer unless they are the only two swimmers in the lane
    • This presents a hazard to other oncoming swimmer(s), forcing them to pull over to get out of the way
  • Swimmers who are being passed should never stop in the middle of the pool. They should stop at the next wall, at the corner of the lane
  • Swimmers who are being overtaken should not attempt to speed up once ‘tagged’, nor should they jump in and ‘tag back’ the new lead swimmer on the next lap
  • If two or more swimmers are closely matched in pace they should either position themselves at opposite ends of a lane or agree on how to share the lead