ADVICE: Top Tips for Swimming Pool Etiquette
Not been swimming for a long time? Or maybe you're just a bit baffled by the seemingly unspoken rules of the pool? Unlike gyms which offer a handy induction every time you've been away for a while, pools can be a bit more intimidating if you haven't swum for a while.
We chatted with swim coach and expert Becky Horsbrugh who shared her top swimming pool etiquette tips.
1. Shower Before you Enter the Pool
Showering before you swim is important for minimising the amount of chemicals, makeup, deodorant and so on that can end up in the pool. By having a quick rinse before you get in, you help to keep the pool cleaner for you and your fellow swimmers. What's more, deodorant can smell when it mixes with chlorine so try as much as possible to enter the pool with clean skin.
2. Wear a Swim Hat
Wearing a swimming hat is not compulsory and many swimmers don't wear them, so if you have forgotten yours on a particular day, that's okay. However, wearing a swim hat helps to keep the pool clean and clear of hair (as well as keeping your hair a little more protected from the chemicals) and so it's good etiquette to pop one on every time you go for a dip.
3. Swim in the Right Direction
Swim signs have handy directional arrows on them to indicate which direction to swim in. Always follow these, even if it's just you in the lane, as it makes life much easier for fellow swimmers joining you, and the lanes are deliberately organised to avoid swimmers in each lane swimming in the same direction.
4. Swim in the Correct Lane
Oh the dreaded lanes? Am I slow? Am I fast? The truth is it depends on who else is in the pool and so whilst you might easily be the quickest swimmer one day, there's no guarantee that you will always be, and so it's best to try to be aware of your relative speed every time you swim.
If you haven't swum for a while we recommend starting in the slow lane and gauging your speed relative to swimmers in the medium lane, before deciding whether to move into that lane. If you feel that you're outswimming the swimmers in that lane too then move over into the fast lane.
If the pool is very quiet and there's a spare lane then it's absolutely fine to swim in that, regardless of which it is. However, if you do this, just keep an eye out for anyone joining that lane who may intend to swim much faster or slower than you.
5. Overtaking and Letting Others Pass
If it becomes apparent that the person behind you is catching you up, pause at the end of the length to let them pass. If you're the faster person catching up the person in front, give them space to complete their length and they should let you pass at the end. If they don't you can either overtake mid-length (fine if the lanes are wide enough... just watch out for any breast stroke kicks) or give them a gentle tap on the foot and they should let you pass at the end. (This can feel passive aggressive but it's a well established and understood gesture in the swim world, so you can do so without feeling like a numpty). If you are resting at the end of a length, wait at the side of the lane so other swimmers can easily turn without bumping into you.
We all like to get into our own zone when we get in the water - for many of us, it's precisely this that makes swimming so rewarding. However, the key to nailing swimming pool etiquette is simply maintaining a light awareness of the swimmers around you - in particular their speed and their distance from you, in order to adapt your swimming as needed. Good luck!