Picture a road where everyone blatantly disregard traffic rules and drive as they please – even if this goes on only for several seconds, the damage that will ensue will oftentimes be catastrophic. The same can be said about public swimming pools, only that the damages may occur to a far lesser degree. While failing to observe the various unspoken rules of swimming pool etiquette will seldom result in fatal outcomes, some petty pool fights are bound to occur. Hence, the reason why it’s important to follow these rules is to ensure that everyone has a smooth and pleasant swimming experience.
While it seems that all swimming spots have their own set of etiquette that you as a new comer are supposed to somehow figure out from day one, knowing the various basic informal rules of swimming can help you easily blend in with the regulars at any swimming area. So if you’re looking to start swimming regularly, here are a few simple pool etiquette rules that will help you appear like a well-mannered swimmer even if you have no idea what you’re doing half the time.
Stick to Your Kind
Going out to swim in a packed pool is not the time to lie to yourself about your swimming prowess. Save the lying for when there are not many people around instead. When entering into foreign territory, you should be brutally honest about your swimming speed so that you’ll be able to stick to your own kind. Most pools have designated lanes for fast, slow, and medium swimmers thus allowing you to get into the lane that’s compatible with you swimming speed. If there are no designated lanes, take a minute to observe swimmers in all lanes in order to be able to pick the one that best meets your speed.
Avoid Disturbing Other Swimmers
Generally, swimming is an anti-social sport where people go to train, blow off some steam, or just laze around, while a few others are usually lost in their thoughts breast-stroking back and forth and probably too breathless to engage in conversations. With that in mind, it’s best if you stick to yourself and avoid engaging everyone in conversation or turning into the pool clown who seeks laughter at the expense of other swimmers.
Engage in Circle Swimming or Stick to One Side of the Lane
A swimming pool lane is spacious enough to accommodate two or more swimmers regardless of their sizes. However, this can only be possible with some level of decorum. You should stick to one end of the lane and allow another swimmer to stay in the opposite end if there are only the two of you in the pool. If there are 3 or more swimmers, remember that the ideal way to share a lane is to circle swim through the lane.
Do Not Hover around In the Pool
Unless you’re “Casper the Friendly Ghost” whereby anyone can just swim right through you, it’s really very, very rude to just hover around in the pool doing nothing. If you need to readjust your swimming gear or feel exhausted after taking a few laps around the pool and need to catch your breath, kindly move over to the far depths of the corners of the pool. This way, you’ll get enough time to relax, stretch out cramped muscles, adjust your goggles, and give your fellow swimmers a chance to get on with their swimming.
Overtake Other Swimmers with Tact
While being stuck behind a slower swimmer can be downright annoying, it does not justify rudely passing the swimmer by shoving past him or her. The right way to pass the person in front of you is to lightly tap his or her foot and wait for the swimmer to give way. Alternatively, you can overtake a fellow swimmer by passing on the left — or the right if you reside in the UK or Australia.
Join the Pool without Making a Fuss
The only allowable time to enter the pool with a big, loud splash is when you’re the first person to arrive or during practice under the supervision of a qualified coach. This is because diving in can be irritating, distracting, and even frightening to swimmers who are concentrating on their laps. You should also not jump into a lane or push into oncoming swimmers when entering the pool. It’s much more polite to let every swimmer in the lane you’re interested in sharing know that you want to enter. So sit at the edge of a pool and wait for swimmers in a lane to complete a set before joining in.