Swim Etiquette

Tips for Lane Etiquette

Check out these tips for smoother lane swimming. If ever you have a question regarding lane etiquette, please ask one of the coaches.


Swimmers should wear swim apparel that is appropriate for a Master's swim workout. All jewellery including watches and rings should be removed. If ever you have a question regarding this, please talk to one of the the coaches.

Please inform the coach, prior to the start of a swim workout, if you feel you need to make him/her aware of any circumstance that may effect your swimming ability.


It is essential that, in order to achieve an efficient lane swim, all swimmers perform the workout as posted. It is detrimental to all to attempt to perform your own workout or modify the posted workout to your own purposes. The posted workout is part of an overall season plan and is based on your swim abilities and your lane pace.

Lane Leading

Who should lead the lane? Nothing makes a set run smoother than a great lane leader. The first swimmer in the lane must understand the set and all the intervals, be able to see and read the pace clock and have a good sense of pace. If you typically take it out fast and fade, you are better off swimming the set behind a teammate who will pace the set better. The Lane Leader should use common sense and realize that the way he/she swims the practice affects everyone in the lane. The other swimmers need to support their Lane Leader, politely correcting errors and electing new leaders if they are getting tired or if someone else is a stronger swimmer for a different type of set (i.e. sprint versus distance or freestyle versus backstroke).


With the number of swimmers in our lanes, the need to pass another swimmer in a long swim is almost inevitable, especially in distance sets. The key to keeping the lane running smoothly and help all the swimmers keep focus on the practice is to determine the passing strategy for the lane before the set begins. Communicate with your lane mates to determine what will work best for everybody in the lane! Passing in the center in a crowded lane is dangerous and not recommended. Instead, we recommend making the pass at the walls rather than in the middle of the laps. Here is how it works:

    • Passer: Gently taps feet of Passee.
    • Passee: At the next turn, pulls over to the Right Corner and stops.
    • Passer: Makes flip turn at Left Corner of wall.
    • Passee: Starts swimming again, behind the Passer.

In general, when lane swimming in practice, swimmers should make their turns at the Left Corner of the lanes. As soon as the swimmer ahead of you finishes his/her turn and goes by, you should swim towards the center of the lane, make your turn to the left of the cross on the wall, and push off on what is now the right-hand side of the lane. If everyone does their turns this way, we will avoid crashing in to each other.

With regards to resting on the wall in the middle of swims, swimmers should hang on the wall in the Right Corner of the lane or ideally exit the pool if they are going to be resting for a significant period of time. This will allow the other swimmers to continue to make their turns in the Left Corner without interference.

Also, when finishing your swims, be sure to finish as far to the left as possible so that the swimmers behind you have some room to your right to finish as well.

Arriving Late and Leaving Early

With the hectic lives we are leading, it is almost unavoidable that all of us will arrive late to practice on occasion. When arriving late, you will want to consider that the practice has been designed from warm-up through cool-down, and when you hop into the action midway, you will not be getting the maximum benefit from the practice. Late arrivers can potentially disrupt the flow of a lane if they are not considerate of those busy in the main set.

Here are a few things that you can do to integrate into the practice more smoothly when arriving late:

    • Talk with the coach to find out what set the lane is doing and how far through the set they are. Do not expect the swimmers to stop and explain it to you.
    • Wait until the swimmers are resting at the wall to announce your arrival. Do not surprise them by just hopping in and swimming behind them. This often leads to collisions.
    • Swim at the tail end of the lane and warm-up slowly before raising your heart rate. Once you are up to speed and the interval allows, adjust your position within the lane to one most appropriate for your speed.
    • Like arriving late, early departures are just part of our tightly scheduled days. Before the set begins, let your teammates know that you will be leaving early. This is particularly important if you are leading the lane. Those behind you will want to make sure they understand the set, the intervals and the send-off times.

Starts and Turns

Negotiating the walls properly leads to a smoother running lane. Imagine that it is Wednesday morning, you are feeling great, and you've found a great rhythm. The lane is crowded, but has run smoothly through the first half of the main set. Then it happens: a traffic jam at the wall. There are people all over the place and no place to turn. The swimmer in front of you just about clipped you coming out of his turn. You begin to think it is safer to be on Highway right now! You've lost your focus, your count, your rhythm, and your enthusiasm, and the rest of the practice is a waste.

How can this be avoided? Follow these guidelines for negotiating the walls in your lane and you will encounter less traffic hazards:

    • Pushing Off: The leader in the lane should always be on the far right side of the lane, ready to push off into the swimming lane. The other swimmers should move to the right side of the lane as their turn to push off approaches and as the people ahead leave.
    • Turning: As you approach the wall for a turn, cross over to the far left hand corner of the lane once the people ahead of you have passed by. Make your turn in the left corner of the lane, and push off along what is now the right side of the swimming lane. If you experience crowding at the walls and there are a limited number of swimmers in the lane, consider leaving with 5 seconds between swimmers.
    • Finishing: As in turning, finish as far to the left in the lane as possible. Leave wall space so that the swimmers behind you have an opportunity to get to the wall.
    • Passing: Communicate a passing strategy within your lane before the set begins. The same strategy will not always work in all lanes. If you stop for any reason in the middle of the set, stay to the far right corner of the lane, out of the way of the other swimmers. See the comments above.

Last but not least

Please use common sense. We all have a limited amount of time to workout and we need to ensure that our swims are as enjoyable as possible for all those involved. Communicate with your fellow lane mates to ensure that each workout is a positive experience.