Hands up those who’ve experienced frustration in the pool or a race because of the bad etiquette they’ve encountered! I’m pretty sure that’s everyone.Just this morning I turned up to my local 50 meter outdoor pool to do a session in the public lane. To my disappointment there was no fast lane and instead I had a choice of a very full double lane that had medium and slow swimmers or a reasonably crowded medium lane. There were a couple of fast swimmers already in the medium lane and it just so happened that I knew them. So we joined together to do the same session. We did a few fairly un- challenging sets but were still going around 1.20 pace with a bit of butterfly thrown in. As we were faster than everyone else even when doing breaststroke, we didn’t bother changing lanes when we were doing 100 medleys on 1.30 cycle. In the space of about half an hour I had broken almost every etiquette rule in the book, had ruined the morning of several poor people and was fairly frustrated myself. We were simply faster swimmers with no lane available to us but the medium lane swimmers were still very angry and rightly so. Management were also cross because they don’t like squads that interrupt the public swimmers and don’t pay for squad lane space, but we were just three people wanting some training company.
The hardest part about swimming is that you have your head down and so are mostly oblivious to what is going on around you. In a run or ride at least you can see on-coming traffic and how fast you are approaching people in front but in swimming there’s no such luck and this creates problems.
What to do?I’ve listed some hard and fast rules for next time you are ploughing up and down the pool or doing a race and also some not so obvious points that may help make your swimming more enjoyable. The problem is that many of the etiquette rules are debatable, such as doing breaststroke in the fast lane. Would you tell Leisel Jones to move into the slow lane?
Even if you are the perfect swimming example you’re sure to nod and chuckle about times when you’ve been involved in bad etiquette situations. So read on...
Swimming pool etiquetteThere’s no way to be subtle on this topic but unfortunately the only way to overcome a lot of the ‘bad etiquette’ in the swimming pool is for people to be realistic about their own ability and swim in the lane that suits their standard. If this means changing lanes for different parts of the session then so be it, but the small sacrifice on your part will make a session much more enjoyable for another person and probably for you too.
General lane choice rulesIn the fast lane you should be able to do 50 metre repeats in less than 50 seconds each. You should not do kick or breaststroke. The medium lane is for reasonably competent swimmers and the slow lane is just that, for slow swimmers.
Allow room for faster people to passTry not to swim down the middle of the lane. If you are swimming close to or above the line down the middle this usually suggests that you are not allowing much room for people to pass you. Stick close to the lane rope and you’ll reduce the chance of someone swimming over the top of you or a head-on collision when someone is overtaking from the other direction. I cringe just thinking about it!
Try to swim with bent arms as it is not just good technique but will help avoid clashing with other swimmers. If you’re not sure what your stroke looks like, then have someone video it for you or take the hint if you seem to be knocking arms with others in the pool on a regular basis.
Don’t speed up if someone is passing youDrop the ego act and just continue swimming as you were because you are just being annoying if you speed up just as someone tries to pass you.
Give way to faster swimmersIf someone appears to be doing a set or continuous swimming don’t push off just before they turn unless you are sure you are going faster than them. If you are swimming a set and a faster swimmer wants to pass then don’t feel you have to stop to let them pass. Don’t throw them off or interrupt them by changing speeds but continue on your way.
Get the lifeguard to monitor the lanes speed layoutDon’t get in a lane you shouldn’t just because other lanes are crowded.
Hopefully the pool lifeguard is monitoring the lane structure and adjusting the lane layout based on the standard of the swimmers at the time. Point out to them that they need to add or remove specific speed pointers at the end of each lane if they aren’t doing it unprompted.
Join a squadI know I harp on about swimming with friends. I do acknowledge, however, that it is very annoying for other swimmers if you have a small squad going in the public lanes. Consider others around you and perhaps keep the groups to a minimum or swim during non-peak periods.
Open water etiquetteThe main thing in the open water is to be aware of how your actions may affect others and be considerate of that. Also, understand that a bit of contact in the open water is bound to happen and don’t take it personally or retaliate.
Stopping in a race, particularly if there are faster swimmers that have started behind you, is not good etiquette. You may just need a breather but have a glance behind you before stopping or changing direction. This goes the other way too: be aware when approaching slower swimmers that they are possibly not as comfortable as you in the water and they’re unlikely to know you are coming so don’t just swim over the top of them. Breaststroke around a buoy is a big no no or breaststroke in general because of the wide kicking action.
Finally, at the risk of stating the obvious and preaching, something that applies to both the pool and racing is recognising when you have crossed the etiquette boundary and following up with an apology to the other party involved. This is the best etiquette of all.
article courtesy of Naantali Marshall- http://www.triathlonmag.com.au