Rachael’s Rant: Swimming in lanes

I love swimming. My star sign is Pisces. My mother had me in a pool before I could walk.


When I grow up, I want a 50m pool in my back garden. ALL.FOR.MYSELF.


Almost. It’s a 10 minute walk from my flat. And I have to share it. Compromises…

I hate swimming in a busy pool. Besides the general hygiene issues, it is essential to have some swimming etiquette.

I suffer with lane rage.

Every time I arrive at a public swimming pool I will spend at least 5 minutes watching the other swimmers, trying to suss out who is going at a similar pace to myself and which lane to join, regardless of whether it is the fast, medium or slow lane.

I find these signs are generally ignored by most swimmers.

My assessment of the lanes and swimmers includes noting whether they are using any equipment, changing strokes frequently and the general behaviour of the swimmers in the pool.

Once I’ve chosen my lane, I get in and get swimming, hoping I won’t have made a mistake and need to swap mid-swim. Can you imagine? 🙄


The wake from a swimmer in front of me suddenly clouds my vision and I am at risk of getting a foot to the schnoz. Darn.

My options are either to slow down and maybe switch to breaststroke or try and overtake without careering into someone coming down the other side. I could also wait  to reach the end and hope the swimmer will let me pass.

Ha! Wishful thinking.

Nope, off they go again!

Now I don’t know if this is a case of “ooo, I better keep moving so as to not hold them up”, but if they’d simply paused at the end and let the faster swimmer pass, the pressure of having to swim faster would wash away.

I appreciate that experience helps and if you’re new to swimming then it might take you a few trips to the pool to get the hang of swimming etiquette.

Well, I thought I’d be really nice and take the time to write a few tips down to help make you feel more at ease in the pool.

Potentially stopping someone dunking you and  drowning you mid-swim. Ahem.

Rachael’s top tips on swimming in lanes

  1. If you’re swimming any other stroke apart from front crawl, or doing drills, then you will most probably be swimming slower. Bare this in mind when picking your lane.
  2. This doesn’t mean if you’re a fast front crawl swimmer that you can’t do a few lengths of breaststroke. Be mindful of when you set off and how your slower pace may affect the other swimmers in your lane.
  3. If you are a slower swimmer in the lane, try and wait until the faster swimmers have set off so you are at the back of the line of swimmers. You could use this as motivation to swim faster and keep up.
  4. Try not to stop in the middle of the lane and let swimmers past. Get to the end, and then do so.
  5. If you are a faster swimmer, wait until the slower swimmers have almost reached the end and set off just before them. You could then use this as motivation to see how many lengths it takes you to catch them!
  6. Finally, if you’re having a rest, ensure that you are clear of the centre of the lane. Some lanes say swim clockwise, some say anti-clockwise – respect this and stick to the opposite side of the side swimmers will arrive at the end of the pool.
  7. If there are just two of you in a lane, I find swimming in a width of the lane each works perfectly!


It is definitely a win when I turn up to an empty pool or have a lane to myself. I can stretch my legs for breaststroke without whacking my feet into some poor soul, and don’t feel obliged to swim so closely to the lane divider that often results in bruised and battered wrist and arms.

With these tips there should be no excuses for bad lane swimming etiquette and everyone can enjoy their water time.


Rant over.