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60 responses

  1. Miz
    November 28, 2012

    this SOOOO NEEEEEDS to be posted at my gym’s pool!
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  2. Lisa @ RunWiki
    November 28, 2012

    Very good tips, perfect for someone just starting out and a great reminder for veterans… thank you
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  3. allison
    November 28, 2012

    Would love to know a great pool in lower manhattan, been waiting forever for asphalt green to open!

    • admin
      November 28, 2012

      The 14th Y has a great indoor pool as does the Chelsea rec center on W 25th between 9th and 10th Avenues. Not sure if either of those are too far from you. And I think that Stuyvesant’s pool is open to the public too? Might have to pay a fee? Hope that helps!

  4. Kat
    November 28, 2012

    If only I swam….sigh
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    • admin
      November 29, 2012

      You should start! :-)

  5. Michele @ Nycrunningmama
    November 28, 2012

    This. Is. Awesome. I wish I had these tips when I first started pool swimming. I was SO SO SO SO nervous and felt like a fish out of water (HA) b/c I didn’t know the etiquette. Sharing this now!! =) xoxo
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  6. Carissa
    November 28, 2012

    This was very helpful! I started swimming last summer and I had to switch gyms because no one would share lanes! (That and I was afraid to ask) So now I get up super early to get a lane at 5am before the pool gets busy. These are great tips for when it’s busy though! Thanks.
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    • admin
      November 29, 2012

      I think that it’s crazy when swimmers don’t share lanes or expect to have a lane to themselves. Of course we would all like to have a lane to ourselves but if you’re at a gym or the Y, it’s communal space!

  7. Lori Ugly Runner Feet
    November 28, 2012

    Thank you for this! I find the pool very intimidating and this is super helpful :)
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    • admin
      November 29, 2012

      The pool can definitely can be intimidating and I wanted to post this to hopefully help people feel a little bit more comfortable walking out onto the pool deck.

  8. Katie – Moms Little Running Buddy
    November 28, 2012

    This is such a good reminder. I see a lot of people not follow these recommendations. Thanks for the refresher!
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  9. Laura @ Mommy Run Fast
    November 28, 2012

    I’m glad you posted these! I searched swimming etiquette before my first swim a few years ago… I was intimidated by the serious swimmers and sure I would do something wrong and offend them all. :) Swimming is an awesome indoor workout… unfortunately, our Y’s pool is outdoors which makes me less likely to get out there in the winter, although it does remain open.
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    • admin
      November 29, 2012

      I kind of wish I had an outdoor pool to swim in! All the pools in NYC are typically about 3 stories underground in some dark basement. :-)

  10. maria @ lift love life
    November 28, 2012

    Going to have to share this later, though I wish it could be shared EVERYWHERE. I get so annoyed when people stop in the middle. UGH.

    • admin
      November 29, 2012

      Stopping in the middle is a big pet peeve of mine!

  11. Angela @ Happy Fit Mama
    November 28, 2012

    I wish I was more of a lap swimmer! The few times I’ve done it, it was like a free for all! Great tips!
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  12. Michelle Montero
    November 28, 2012

    Excellent advise! I never heard of the foot tap before. I typically like the lane to myself:), but I’m always able to find another swimmer who is willing to split the lane.
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  13. Mary Sue
    November 28, 2012

    How about getting out of the pool? I swim at a place that has a 16 lane pool with ladders on each side and one in the middle. If I’m not near a ladder, when is it appropriate to cross a lane to get to the ladder to get out?
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    • admin
      November 28, 2012

      I try to cross after the swimmer has turned and pushed away from the wall where I’m waiting. Then sneak under the lane line and quickly cross the lane and wait at the next corner for it to be clear to cross the next lane. Obviously, if the swimmer is at the other end of the pool or you have a lot of clearance, then you can just cross. I think that it’s just a matter of being mindful of fellow swimmer and showing general courtesy. Most people appreciate that.

  14. Madeline @ Food Fitness and Family
    November 28, 2012

    AHHH!!! What an awesome post! I wish we could post this at every pool at every gym. So many people just don’t know the etiquette! Sharing :)
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  15. lynne @ lgsmash
    November 28, 2012

    I had serious anxiety about exactly this when I decided to give swimming a try last year. I had no idea what was appropriate or ‘standard’ for letting someone know you wanted to swim in their lane. The first time, I looked in the pool, saw all the lanes were full and was too apprehensive to ask anyone (lifeguard included) what to do so I sat in the locker room until a lane was free. This post would have helped me a TON. Thanks for posting!!
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    • admin
      November 29, 2012

      It’s super intimidating!! I also think it has something to do with the cap and goggles but swimmers can seem like an unfriendly bunch sometimes. So many people I know have done the same thing – sat in the locker room and waited for an open lane. I’m glad that this was helpful.

  16. Kierston
    November 28, 2012

    I’m a terrible swimmer. I float. I could probably use a few lessons in swimming etiquette…let alone swimming itself! ;) lol

    Great tips my friends!
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    • admin
      November 29, 2012

      Floating is big!! I know lots of people who can’t float ;-)

  17. Mary @ Have the World
    November 28, 2012

    Great post! I wish I had it two years ago when I started swimming…. It can be sooo intimidating entering the pool for the first time. I learned a few of these lessons the hard way :)
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    • admin
      November 29, 2012

      Thanks Mary! I’m glad that the post was helpful and I hope that it helps people feel a little bit more comfortable going to the pool. I know that it’s an intimidating environment nonetheless.

  18. Jess @ Blonde Ponytail
    November 28, 2012

    This non-swimmer had no idea of the rules. Thanks for sharing–I know a sprint tri is in my future, so keeping this in mind for training!
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    • admin
      November 29, 2012

      Thanks Jess and glad that you found it helpful. Swimmers are definitely a tribe of their own.

  19. Kristen
    November 28, 2012

    This should be posted at EVERY pool! I see so much nonsense going on at the indoor pool close to our house and no one does anything to change it.
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  20. misszippy
    November 28, 2012

    This is great! It never fails to amaze me how few swimmers are clued in on etiquette. My simple request from them all–let me know if you are getting into the lane! I am happy to share, but let’s decide on how we’re going to do it together!!
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    • admin
      November 29, 2012

      That drives me crazy too. That and when someone literally jumps in the water as I’m approaching the wall. Now that’s one way to let me know you’re entering the lane.

  21. Pavement Runner
    November 28, 2012

    I don’t swim laps, so this was all completely new to me. It sounds so intimidating, but I guess it just takes practice. Thanks for a peek into the pool.

    • admin
      November 29, 2012

      It can be intimidating but you’re right, it just takes practice. Just like with all the etiquette rules we take for granted as runners too i.e. at race start as you mentioned before.

  22. Phaedra @ Blisters and Black Toenails
    November 28, 2012

    GREAT tips. I think every public pool should have these posted on the door of the change room before you enter the pool deck!
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    • admin
      November 29, 2012

      Thanks Phaedra!

  23. Adam Davis
    November 28, 2012

    I grew up swimming on a year round team from the time I was 9 years old.

    My biggest pet peeve is not moving to the left at the wall when you stop. Swimmers like to finish to the wall, the same way that runners like to finish to the finish line. When you come in and just stop, the swimmer behind you has to find a place to finish. If you come over and move to the left once you hit the wall, the swimmer behind can finish.

    As far as getting in the water, in California where I grew up swimming on my year round team, all of our pools are outdoors. If you want to wait to introduce yourself, hop in the pool, and just move to the left hand side of the wall. No need to wait out in the cold.

    PS I hate splitting the lane.

    • admin
      November 28, 2012

      Thanks Adam for sharing your tips and pet peeves. I too hate when swimmers don’t move out of the way. Living on the East Coast, I wish that I got to swim in an outdoor pool more often!

  24. Jess
    November 28, 2012

    Yeah this definitely needs to be posted at my gym. I love swimming! The only time I’ve really been irritated was in a 3 lane pool and I tried to jump in and share and the guy stopped and told me to get out and wait. He hated sharing and he waited for an empty lane so I should do the same. The swimmers in the other lanes were really slow, so I didn’t feel like it would be fair for me to get in their lanes. And I was so embarrassed I just left. Mostly I’ve found swimmers to be friendly and helpful with their rules,
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    • admin
      November 29, 2012

      OMG!! I can’t believe that he told you to get out and wait! That’s so ridiculous. If you’re at the gym, it’s a communal space. If you want a lane all to yourself, go to a pool that allows you to reserve a lane or build your own pool! Yes, we’d all love to have our own lane but we have to learn to share.

  25. Lisa
    November 29, 2012

    As a swimmer, I have a lot of pet peeves when it comes to the pool. It seems as though a lot of people just don’t know the etiquette!

    When I was going to the community pool it was really crowded and there were lots of newbies. It was a must to circle swim. Now that I’m at a nicer pool that’s let crowded it’s rare that it’s necessary to circle swim!

    My biggest pet peeve is the people who don’t pay attention to lane speeds. Even if it’s not marked, it is pretty obvious which lane is the fast lane! It baffles my mind when slow swimmers get in the fast lane.
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    • admin
      November 29, 2012

      It’s definitely nice not to have to share a lane or circle swim but you’re right, we should all know how to handle those situations when they do come up. Oh it drives me crazy when people don’t pay attention to lane speeds either or when folks jump in the fast lane and exclusively breaststroke. It would be one thing if they were Ryan Lochte or Michael Phelps but they’re not.

      • Lisa Eirene
        November 29, 2012

        Or the BUTTERFLY! OMG that makes me crazy. It takes up the entire lane, it causes massive waves and it’s just plain rude to do when sharing a lane!!!!!
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  26. Carly D. @ CarlyBananas
    November 29, 2012

    I started swimming a bunch last winter and it took me forever to get the guts to share a lane. Once I did I was much happier splitting a lane than circle swimming. I’d wait to find a slower person and split it with them. I had this one horribly traumatic experience with this swimmer (who I know… she blogs) and she got in with me when I was sharing and wanted to circle swim. I asked her not to (there were lanes with faster people) and she just took off swimming. I was in her way quickly and she basically grabbed my foot and swam over me. So I just got out of the pool and left. I seriously refused to go to the gym in the morning after that for like…months.
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    • admin
      November 29, 2012

      OMG!!! That’s horrible! I wouldn’t go to the gym for months afterwards too. I don’t understand behavior like that. I’m so sorry that happened to you. The pool is intimidating enough as it is. There’s no need for swimmers to be mean as well.

  27. Arah
    November 29, 2012

    Love this post! The foot tap thing is new to me, but I’m unlikely to use it as I really, really don’t like circle-swimming and if it is in the cards, I will turn around and head to the hot tub or just go home. I really, really don’t like in-water collisions. Somewhat ironically, I once got certified as a lifeguard!

    That said, I really hoped you’d have some nugget that could explain to me why some lap swimmers are simply jerks. I went to a nearby Olympic-size outdoor pool -on a gorgeous day- at a local Y and waited at the end of the one available lane to sort things out with the person I had to share the lane with. We agreed to split the lane, but as I came back on my second length, the guy was swimming right at me in my lane! It scared me to death. When I finished that length, I was nearly in tears. I got out of the pool and went home.
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    • admin
      November 29, 2012

      Oh Arah! That is scary and has happened to me before too. I don’t know what some lap swimmers are jerks. I don’t know if it’s like a hazing thing but it almost feels like that sometimes. I would much rather spend a few minutes explaining some of the rules to someone, especially if it’s clear that they are a new swimmer than make them feel like they aren’t welcome in the pool. The pool is a great place and swimmers are a fun bunch. Maybe people feel like they take on an alternate personality once they don a cap and goggles?

      • Arah
        December 3, 2012

        I love the alternate personality bit. Swimmers are a lot more naked, but still wearing a type of mask! Funny. I’ll be spending a bit more time in the pool, this month, as a nurse a sore foot. Maybe I’ll get more comfortable? Or at least, make some new friends!
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  28. Run with Jess
    November 29, 2012

    Interesting. I’m a fairly new swimmer, just started last winter. At my gym, there is no lane sharing (although I’ve seen walkers do it as they chit chat)… so all of this is quite foreign to me. We sign up in advance (reserve) our lanes and that’s that. Our lane is ours for 20 or 40 minutes. No open swim. I can’t imagine sharing a lane… I’ve found the swimmers at my gym to be quite an unfriendly bunch & it kinda put me off from swimming. In fact, after my first tri was done, I don’t think I ever got back in the water again. Hoping to do so this winter though…
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    • admin
      November 29, 2012

      I want to join your gym! I’d LOVE to be able to reserve a lane. I do hope that you get back in the water this winter. It’s interesting to hear everyone’s perception of swimmers and yes, I agree, we can be an intimidating bunch for sure. But I think that it’s the same when you walk into any new activity – it can be intimidating being the newbie.

  29. Renee
    November 29, 2012

    I have been a swimmer for most of my life and I have to say I never knew you could split a lane with another swimmer and swim in a circle?! Wouldn’t that make it hard for others to join your lane? The rest of these are spot on. Also if you are using equipment (hand paddles, kickboards or leg bouies) my gym asks you to use a different lane than the lap swimmers since you will be stopping more to swap equipment.
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    • admin
      November 29, 2012

      Thanks Renee for pointing that out – I guess I wasn’t clear in what I wrote. I meant splitting the lane and basically staying on your side of the lane swimming up and down. Does that make sense? Swim up with the lane line on your right and swim down with the lane line on your left. My pool doesn’t typically ask people to use different lanes if they’re using equipment since most people are doing sets but that’s an interesting idea.

      • Renee
        November 29, 2012

        Yes that makes sense how I was all confused like how does that work! I had never seen them ask to switch lanes either but I think the people who were using them were slowing down the lane so the lifeguard thought it would clear out some congestion and complains :) Great Post!
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  30. Becky @ RunFunDone
    November 29, 2012

    I had a plan to write a pool-etiquette post at some point. I’m too shy to share my lane with anyone but hubs, but I was shocked when I started doing my research, and learned about the foot-tapping thing. I would have been super creeped if someone tapped my foot while swimming! (Because I wouldn’t have known what it meant!) Thankfully, it’s never happened before, and now I know what it means.
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  31. FitBritt@MyOwnBalance
    June 10, 2013

    Great post Christine! I have some questions. First, what happens when you want to join a lane where swimmers have decided to split the lane and not circle swim? I’ve had a situation where the swimmers were reluctant to start circle swimming (even though pool rules prohibited splitting lanes and required circle swimming). How do you deal with that? Second, how do you handle a situation where, you’ve picked a lane (not the fast lane) and no one else is swimming in that lane. Someone joins you and starts swimming much faster than you and is tapping your feet to pass you multiple times, causing you to have to stop and wait for them to pass more than once. This happened to me and I was annoyed because: 1.) I was here first, darn it! and 2.) It threw off my pace. At the same time, I didn’t really feel I could ask her to leave.
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    • Christine
      June 10, 2013

      Those are great questions.

      With regard to the split lanes, I usually sit at the edge of the pool with my feet/toes in the water so that see me and then make sure to ask both swimmers if they mind circle swimming. I try to ask nicely and even say sorry sometimes and may point out that there are no other open lanes. I have had people be reluctant to do it but end up doing it. They may be huffy but everyone has a right to swim during lap swim times (and I’m assuming that you’re not jumping into their lane when there are other lanes free). You have every right to ask to join their lane.

      As for the second situation, that’s kind of rude of the other swimmer. You can’t ask her to leave but could you have split the lane in this instance? If I’m the faster swimmer and I find that I’m always catching up, I do stop and try to make sure there’s a decent distance between me and the other swimmer, even waiting until they are almost back at the wall where I’m waiting before taking off again so that I’m ahead of them. At the same time, when I’m the slower swimmer, I try to be super aware. If I know that someone is catching up to me or will catch up to me after I turn at the wall, I will stop at the wall and let them pass. If the pace levels are totally different in my lane, I also try to watch and see when someone else leaves another lane and I will switch to it.

      Neither case is ideal. It’s hard when we’re all thrown into a pool together and we all have different experience/pace levels but we are sharing a small space together. I think that the thing that bothers me most in the pool is when people are just disrespectful of others in the pool and assume that they have the right of way regardless (not saying that you are doing this at all).

      Not sure if that’s entirely helpful?
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      • FitBritt@MyOwnBalance
        June 10, 2013

        Very helpful! Thank you! It is difficult trying to accommodate everyone’s speed/level in the pool. I appreciate your suggestions.
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  32. Cynthia @ You Signed Up For WHAT?!
    September 15, 2014

    This is really helpful – thanks!

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