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Updated: Mar 14

Edited 10/16/22

Here are a few lane etiquette rules & reminders to ensure everyone has a positive experience and opportunity to get a great workout. First and foremost, meet your coach and lane mates and have fun! 

Try to arrive on time for the workouts so the coach can arrange the lanes appropriately.

If you arrive late, check in with the coach first so they can brief you on the set and help you integrate into the correct lane. Try not to interrupt the other swimmers during the middle of a set. Once the current set is complete, the lane can be rearranged from fastest to slowest for the next set.

If you need guidance about the best lane to select, the coach will help you find the appropriate lane for your ability. Let the coach know if you are new to Masters, just getting back in shape, tired, raring to go, etc.

If you are new to swimming or haven’t been swimming in a while, rest when needed and listen to your body. You are not required to stay for the full duration, but it is helpful to communicate with the coach and your lane mates if you intend to leave early.

Always circle swim in the lane (swim on the right side of the lane close to the lane line).

The first two people leading the lane dictate the pace of the lane. The leader of the lane, ideally, can read the pace clock well, understand the sets, and is the fastest swimmer for each particular set on that day.  

Make sure the lane order is correct from fastest to slowest for each particular set so there is good lane flow. Lane leaders and swimmer order can shift throughout the workout if one swimmer is stronger at kicking, non-free, etc.

Typically, swimmers will leave the wall either 5 or 10 seconds apart. Leaving less than 5 seconds after the swimmer in front of you increases the risk of collision, and will often make the swimmer ahead of you feel crowded. If you are swimming that close to someone else, it is implied that you intend to swim faster than them, in which case, you should request to go ahead of them in the lane order. Don't be a habitual tailgater!

When there are 4 or fewer people in a lane, there is the option for each swimmer to go 10 seconds apart. At long course (50 meters) workouts, swimmers may go 10 seconds apart when there is a larger quantity of swimmers in the lane than just 4. Rely on the coach to guide you if swimmers should go 5 or 10 seconds apart. 

When turning at the wall, swimmers go from the right side of the lane to the left corner to turn & push off. If you need to stop for whatever reason, do your best to stop at the end of the lane and stand in the right corner (opposite of where swimmers turn). Stopping in the middle of the lane poses safety hazards, for you and your lane mates. 

If you are catching the person in front of you, that person should stop at the end of the lane and move to the right corner to let you overtake them. Ideally, lane order should be corrected at the wall when there is a break in the swimming.

**note: there is debate amongst swimmers as to whether it is appropriate to tap someone's foot to let them know you would like to overtake them. Please be aware that some swimmers find this upsetting, so your best option is to confirm ahead of time how the swimmers in your lane prefer to handle passing one another.

During a workout, communicate with your lane mates to let them know when you are starting, whether you are dropping out for extra rest, and whether you would like to lead or follow. Good lane mate communication is important so that we all get a great workout in!

At the finish of any swim, the leader should approach the wall at the left corner of the lane to keep the wall open for the next swimmer. Each swimmer after that should touch the wall and then move aside to allow those behind them to finish. Be aware of your lane mates as they approach, especially those swimming backstroke. When starting a new swim, each swimmer will push off the wall from the right corner of the lane, so be careful not to block the lane leader from starting the next swim.

It is acceptable to move yourself to a faster lane and add equipment like fins or paddles to keep up, as long as you don't disrupt the flow of the lane.

Don’t change the intervals without the agreement of the coach and all the people in your lane.


Modifications are welcome, but if you choose to use different gear or swim a different stroke than what the coach has assigned, make sure your lane order is correct and you are not interfering with others in your lane.

Ultimately communication is key to having a great experience in the pool and at our workouts. Please talk to your coach, and keep your lane mates informed. This will help foster an environment for all of us to have a great session together.

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