Busy days in the pool: Swimming lane etiquette

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Whether it is the increasing temperatures and the sun being out, or the growing popularity of triathlon as a sport or Nireas as a club, it can get busy in the pool these days. 

Experienced swimmer or not, it is good to (re-) familiarize ourselves with swimming etiquette when sharing lanes. The aim is for everyone to have a hassle-free enjoyable and safe workout. 

So: read this, put on your swimsuit, goggles and swimming cap and join us for one of our great work-outs! 

Here are the essentials, extracted and adapted from usms.org, speedo.com and active.com:

Which lane to swim in?

Enter the water when a coach is present. Pick a lane with people that are compatible with your speed. If you are the first in the water, people will join you in the lane. And follow the instructions of your coach when requested to move to another lane. 

Circle Swim or splitting lanes? 

If you are two in a lane, you may decide to split the lane, meaning one person on one side of the middle and the other on the other side. Use the black line at the bottom of the pool as an indicator of where you are. If you are more than two people, then circle swimming is the way to go: always swim on the right side of the lane. It is custom here to swim on the right, counter clockwise that is. 


Slower swimmers must give way to faster swimmers, even when in the same lane. Let the faster swimmer leave the wall before the slower one. 


Pass on the left. Avoid passing just prior to the wall. If you are being overtaken at a turn (see nr 4: speed), stop, wait until the other (faster) swimmer has pushed off. Check for other (incoming) swimmers prior to preparing to pass. 

Pausing, rests and in between sets

During a set, and when at the wall, move as much to the right side of the lane as possible (the side where you enter the water and push off from), and follow the sequence in which you started.

Avoid stopping in the middle of the lane. It is unexpected. 

Use common sense

Be polite to your fellow swimmers, and don’t be afraid to tell another swimmer if you see them doing something potentially dangerous. Also relax if you don’t manage to swim your set in the desired time because there were others in your lane. You will either swim better next time, or easily make up for it during the cycle or the run. 

Of course, over and above anything, follow the instructions as they are given by the coach.

And most of all: enjoy your own training and support that of your fellow swimmers in the lane!

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Inge Nieuwenhuis

Inge Nieuwenhuis

Inge is a triathlete, a writer and a life coach.

Triathlon Club Nireas is a non-profit organization registered by the Ministry of Internal Affairs under registration number 1439. We are the oldest Cyprus Triathlon Club operating in Nicosia since 26th April 1994. Read our constitution to find our more about club’s goals and objectives.
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