Updated: Apr 29
When swimming laps at your local pool, even if rules aren't posted, there are unstated expectations to follow or rather not to do as a swimmer.
Don't be impatient or wrapped up in the long sets on your training plan if a lane is not readily available to you. Although it's easier said than done, chill. Your situation isn't life-threatening and no one else's problem in the pool or the lifeguards. Don't put yourself in a situation where you can't get into the pool as soon as you arrive and you have a melt down or go on a tirade.
Don't stake your claim to the end of the lane by dumping your pool or tri bag. Wait to take over when you have a lane secured or been acknowledged/invited by a swimmer in a shared lane.
Talk about uneasy and uncomfortable situations in the pool. Don't stare down a swimmer until they let you in. Wait on the side to take over when you have a lane secured or been acknowledged/invited by a swimmer in a shared lane.
Prepare yourself to jump in at a moment's notice. Don't waste time getting ready only to miss the opportunity to jump in on a free lane. If the lanes are crowded, be prepared to swim when someone leaves or offers to share a lane with you.
If someone is unwilling to share a lane with you, don't lose your cool. Some people prefer their privacy, and there's often no written rule requiring them to share a lane if they so choose. Others might be newer swimmers unaware of how/when to split a lane or the concept of circle swimming. As long as you don't throw an adult temper tantrum, that's their right.
Do not plunge into the water without first asking permission from the person currently swimming in the lane. There's nothing more tense than plunging into a lane without first asking to share the lane via split or circle swimming.
If you're given the option to split a lane, keep your swim aids only on your side of the lane. Don't pull everything out of your bag and take over the pool deck. Be considerate and make sure your belongings aren't blocking their path or encroaching on their stuff.
Make sure you're ready to go with your gear at the pool's far end by standing at attention there. Anyone in the water will notice you and offer you to share their lane if they see you and willing to do so.
If there's one exception, it's the pool walker or floatie user in the dedicated lap lane. When people are not doing laps, they need to relocate to a spot where they can float while other people are swimming in the lap lanes.
Most Important Pool Etiquette Tip for Triathletes & Swimmers
When you are getting ready to go swimming to knock out some training sets and yards, and arrive at your local pool to find no lanes - keep a cool and collected demeanor.
First and foremost, do not lose hope. Always have your wits about you and be prepared for the possibility that someone will be leaving soon so you can enter. It usually works out.
In the meantime - do some pool side arm circles or shoulder exercises to get your body ready to jump in as soon as a lane opens up.