Rules for Safe Lane Swimming at Your Local Pool

Swimming is a popular sport for developing fitness. Observe the pool rules for a safe swimming session.

More and more adults are discovering the health and fitness benefits of regular swimming. Many local pools provide times when the lanes are set up and fitness swimming is encouraged. Keeping in mind that the rules will differ from pool to pool and in different communities, there are some things that lane or lap swimmers should always do, to respect the safety of others as well as themselves. Check out your pool rules before embarking on a swimming fitness programme. Remember, these rules are for the convenience and safety of all who use the pool and will make help make your swimming experience more pleasurable.

Regardless of any rules that may exist, there are also some common sense guidelines for lane swimming. Hopefully, after reading this article, you will not be one of those irritating or ignorant swimmers who selfishly ignore the needs of others.

1. Take time to observe what is happening

Before you enter the pool, wait a few minutes and watch those already in the pool. Get an indication of what level of ability the swimmers are in each lane. Look at how the pool rules are being put into practice. This is especially important if you are swimming away from your home pool, maybe even in a country where you are not so familiar with the language. Look at how any equipment such as kick boards are being used and where swimmers place their personal belongings needed during the swim, such as drink bottles or flippers. These things will give you a general idea of behavior expectations.

2. Choose the correct lane

Just because when you swam there yesterday and were able to swim in the fastest lane, it doesn't mean that will be the case today. Most pools now have signs indicating a general level of speed and ability, usually simply fast, medium and slow. By watching the other swimmers first, you'll get an idea of which lane will be the best for you. This is not a good place to have an over exaggerated or under exaggerated perception of your swimming abilities. Being in the wrong lane means you become a hindrance to other swimmers. If you're not sure, under estimate initially. You can always change. Also, if you have a varied swimming programme, be prepared to swap lanes as need be. For example, after a set of sprint lengths, you may change to using the kick board, a much slower activity. Be fair to the others still swimming fast and move across to the next lane for that set.

3. Directional movement

Many pools have rules about how a number of swimmers using the same lane should travel. It usually up one side and back the other, for example keeping to either your left or your right. That means you go up one side of the lane and return on the other. A simple rule, but it avoids unnecessary collisions. Only when you are the only swimmer in the lane is it safe to swim up the center black line on the bottom of the pool.

4. When overtaking or being overtaken

Again, common sense should prevail. If you are slower than the others in the lane, stop when you reach the end. Quickly check that a short wait could mean a faster swimmer moving on uninterrupted and avoid the need for overtaking. If you need to overtake another swimmer, a quick look will indicate whether this is safe to do so without colliding with a swimmer going in the opposite direction. If you are being overtaken, as soon as you are aware of it happening, move as close to the lane rope as you can. You don't need to stop swimming, just make it easier for the other swimmer to pass.

5. Resting at the end of the pool

When you are resting or waiting at the end of the pool, consider the other swimmers. Move across to the edge of the lane, giving them space to turn at the wall. If there are several of you waiting at the same time, moving a short way along the lane rope can be a sensible way of making space for others to turn. Remember, the lanes set up in the pool are for lane or lap swimmers, not those wanting to talk to friends.

Safe and enjoyable swimming

By respecting other swimmers, they will also respect you. Everyone has different needs and so should be able to use the pool in different ways. By observing these simple rules, your swimming session should be a safe and happy one.

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Martine Pauwels
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Posted on Apr 23, 2010