Lane etiquette is a bit like the highway code – it enables a surprisingly large number of swimmers to share a lane safely.
We circle swim in the lane, so the lane rope will always be on your same side. Ask in the lane which way round they swim, because we usually alternate directions so that you are swimming alongside the swimmers in the next lane.
Lane swimming works best if the swimmers set off in speed order, with the faster swimmers at the front. If you are not sure of your speed, then start at the back and move forward as you work out your best position. Remember that you may have to change your position as we change strokes.
Allow at least 5 seconds between swimmers – 10 seconds if you are sprinting or there are fewer swimmers in the lane. If in doubt, ask.
If you are catching the swimmer in front, you have two options. First, you can wait until we next stop and then politely suggest that you might move in front. Second, you can give their feet one or two firm taps. The person whose feet are being tapped should then move out of the way at the lane end so you can pass. Only tap feet if you are confident that you can keep ahead of the swimmer passed. Are you sure you will be able to keep ahead without the benefit of drafting? If you do not want to overtake, then try to avoid touching the swimmer in front.
If you want to rest or have finished, move to the corner to leave the centre of the end free for swimmers to turn and to touch to finish. If you have taken a break, it is usually best to wait for the lane’s next rest break before rejoining, but if you want to start again sooner then make sure you do so carefully so as not to interrupt other swimmers. Remember they will not be expecting you!
If you are not doing what has been set for the lane – for example, you are cooling down early – then it is your responsibility to do this without interfering with the other swimmers.
If at all possible try to avoid stopping before the end of the lane, but if you do have to stop in the middle of the lane pull to the side immediately to get out of the way of the swimmers behind you.
Most of our pools have the round pace clocks, with a single second hand which is red on one end.
“Going on red top” means that the first swimmer will push off when the red hand is at 12 o’clock. The other swimmers then follow at 5 or 10 second intervals. Remember when you pushed off and you can then check what time you did by looking at the clock as you finish.
“Swimming 100s off 1.45” means taking 1 minute 45 seconds both to swim 100m and then rest. This means that, if the first swimmer pushed off the first time at red top, they will push off for the second 100 when the red hand is at the “quarter to” position. If in doubt, make sure you are not the first swimmer and just push off 5/10 seconds after the swimmer before you.
“IM” means Individual medley. The order of strokes is fly, backstroke, breaststroke, freestyle. 100 IM means doing 25m of each stroke in that order.
There are a number of training categories, which indicate how hard you should swim. A1 is easy (60% to 75% effort), A2 steady (75% to 80%) A3 moderate (80% to 85%) AT/Aerobic Threshold is fairly fast (85% to 95%), VO2Max is fast (95% to 100%) and sprint is 100%.
You may be set specific drills or just a general drill set where you can choose what to do. Ask for suggestions if you are not sure.
“Choice” means you can choose which stroke to do and “Form” means you can choose any stroke but front crawl. If you are set either of these, then find out which strokes other people are doing in order to order yourselves correctly.
Above all else, communicate – ask if another swimmer wants to come in front, apologise for accidental bumps and if it doubt ask what you should do.