On a mini-vacation to New York City.  I went for a swim at the local YMCA.  Since it was my first time at this pool and in a new city, before I started my laps, I did a quick observation to see if their swimming etiquette was different.  These few minutes prevents you from getting yelled at by other swimmers, being stopped by the lifeguard and getting hit by another swimmer.  Here are general etiquette tips when you visit a new pool.

1.  When you first walk in, notice how the lanes are separated.  There is usually a sign above the lane or on a sign at one of the ends of each lane.  On the signs should say the speed (slow, medium, fast).  There may also be a sign that says recreation swimming or water running.  That is sometimes its own lane or shared with the slow lane.

2.  Know which lane you belong in.  Being a fast swimmer in the slow lane or a slow swimmer in the fast lane can lead to problems, sometimes dangerous ones.  Keep in mind, you may think you are faster or slower than the rest but take a moment to look at the swimmers and see how you compare speed wise.

3.  Whatever lane you choose, there will always be a swimmer in your lane that want’s to pass or that you want to pass.  The safest place to pass another swimmer is at the wall. You are simply far less-likely to have a head-on collision with another swimmer there. That said, if for some reason, you can’t make passes at the wall, you can always go around someone mid-pool. Just try to do so earlier in the lap, rather than later, so that you both have enough time and space to turn at the far wall.

4.  If you need to stop, wait until you get to the end and stick to the opposite corner that the swimmers are turning at.

5.  Different pools and different countries have different directions for the swimmers in the lane. Most pools that I swim at, swimmers go up the right side, down the left side.  Though some pool lanes are wide enough to have two lanes in one.  Sometimes this is done by both swimmers going down the middle and up the opposing sides or vice-versa.  Always check with the lifeguard if you’re confused what direction to go in.

6.  If you’ll be doing drills that slow you down, switch over to a slower lanes and move back into the faster lane when you’re done.

Now that you know lane swimming etiquette, you can swim away without annoying the ‘regulars.’  Hopefully it will be so joyful, you’ll also become a regular!