YourSwimBook: Don’t Be That Swimmer – 8 Swimming Etiquette Don’t’s

Olivier Poirier-Leroy is a former national level swimmer based out of Victoria, BC. In feeding his passion for swimming, he has developed YourSwimBook, a powerful log book and goal setting guide made specifically for swimmers. Sign up for the YourSwimBook newsletter (free) and get weekly motivational tips by clicking here.

One of my favorite parts of swimming late into July and August was that our lanes tended to thin out. Kids would go with their parents on vacation, go to camps, or simply take the summer off. The result would be 1-2 swimmers per lane, which after a season of packed lanes was unreal. (“You mean we can leave twenty seconds apart?”)

But with September being here, and a fresh season afoot, it’s all hands on deck with full groups and full lanes. Which brings with it lots of incidental hand slapping from across the black line, the occasional tickle fight (I’ll explain), and some Grand Theft Swim Gear.

So here are 8 little points of etiquette to remember as we jump back into a new season–


Swimming is an anti-social sport in some regards; we spend hours on end swimming back and forth, lost in our thoughts, often too out of breath between sets and repeats to spend any remaining air on conversation.

During our unending march up and down the pool, it’s easy to get hypnotized by that tiled, black line that is often the only thing that stares us back in the face for the duration of our workout. Just remember to not to fall for its tractor beam and swim up-and-down directly above it, lest you slap a couple teammates with your meat-paddles.


Okay, I kind of lied. I am ticklish. But just a little. And certainly not in my toes to foot area. Which makes it all the more infuriating when the swimmer behind me – instead of passing – stays tucked in behind me, enjoying a free draft while also trying to instigate a tickle fight.

Not interested, sir.


Look, you and I both know that everyone pees in the pool. It’s not a secret. And while outsiders – rather understandably I would think – imagine we are an insane lot by admitting to the fact that we swim around in pools that we freshly peed in, let’s all just play the deny-deny-deny card on this one.

There are things we don’t ever need to think about. Our parents, doing, you know. Where hot dogs come from. And swimming around in freshly-peed in water.


Because when you do, it means that I cannot. (Just kidding! Well, sort of…)


Just like driving, or walking, or life in the general, observing the rules of the road always makes things go a lot smoother for everyone involved. Less head-on collisions, and fewer fist-waggings.

Circle swimming, although short of traffic fines and reflective signage, has its own set of peculiar customs. Swimming in a circle, for one. Which means not swimming in a rectangle, or worse, a rhombus.

Remember to angle towards that big, black T when swimming into the wall so that the toe-tickler behind you has room to swim into their turn as well.


You’re bushed. I get it. Swimming is rough stuff. But if you’re gonna sit out a repeat to stretch out a cramped muscle, adjust your goggles, or reread the set, please move your posterior to the far depths of the corner of the lane so that your lanemates can turn unobstructed.


This is most common during meet warm-ups. You’ll be building up to a good boil, cruising into the wall to do a fantastic, race-speed flip-turn, only to have another swimmer watch you intently swim towards him or her, and then decide to push off right before you turn.

You’re not even halfway through your breakout when you submerge below said swimmer, who looks at you with an expression that can only possibly read: “Derp.”



Equipment tug-of-wars are never funny – unless you’re not involved. At that point it’s kind of funny. Watching two teammates yank a kickboard back and forth, when the easier solution would be to jump out and get a new one, is an absurd show of pride.

How do you insure that your teammates don’t snipe your stuff when you’re not looking or still swimming? Build a pyramid of your gear at the end of your lane, and if that fails, just make sure you get your hand on the wall first.

I know there are more swimming no-no’s that I missed. Can you think of any? List them in the comments below.

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4 years ago

Pensioners, feel free to use your swimming pass in the local pool at 7am, when I am getting in my daily ten lengths before work. You don’t need to actually swim. Just stand around and chat in the middle of the pool.

6 years ago

5. Turn on the middle left side so I can pass in the middle coming back, Unless I touch you. Then turn on the right side because I am already passing on your left side.
1. Don’t hug the black line or the lane line. Also, keep your elbows high and in to avoid slapping someone.

Allen Highnote
8 years ago

Solution to #7 when you’re in the fast lane. Flip, run into their feet then pass them. They’ll get the message.

My favorite is when you’ve already done 2300 meters and someone wants to show everyone how fast they are. You know the one. They dive in next to you at the halfway point of your 3rd 200 and, without warming up, and race you for a 100. Then they take a break until the halfway point of your next 200 and races you again. I love just letting the poor idiot burn himself out. So he’s beat you twice in a row by only swimming half of what you’re doing. You keep your composure and now for the 5th… Read more »

9 years ago

I use this one as part of our team rules:
Expect to be at practice a minimum of 15 to 20 minutes prior to start time. This isn’t just something we made up to make your life miserable; in fact, your future employer will expect this of you. Use that “extra” time to get some stretching in so you are not sitting out during the main set because you are stiff or tight or sore or whatever excuse you have today 🙂

Eddie Rowe
9 years ago

When you and a buddy go to the pool together and each take your own lane. Then proceed to discuss life, christmas gifts and the weekend’s bender instead of swimming. If you’re going to talk the whole time the LEAST you could do is not take up two lanes while doing it. Better yet, just bag the workout, go to the bar, and leave the lane space to those there to swim.

9 years ago

Don’t pee in the pool, it might cause cancer:

Then again, chlorine and other pool chemicals have been linked to cancer too, so we’re all gonna get it anyway. And yeah, if you do it, don’t tell me or I will smack you. Communal denial is the way to go.

9 years ago

Coach said leave on the top. For those of you that don’t know, that means you push off the wall when the second hand reaches 60. Not 57. Not even 59. You push off at 60!!

Reply to  Tony
9 years ago

I’m amazed this didn’t make the list. It’s possibly my personal biggest pet peeve.

Masters guy
9 years ago

Mostly a masters and triathlete thing, but using fins and/or paddles for an entire workout to keep up because your ego won’t let you swim in a slower lane.

About Olivier Poirier-Leroy

Olivier Poirier-Leroy

Olivier Poirier-Leroy has been involved in competitive swimming for most of his life. Starting off at the age of 6 he was thrown in the water at the local pool for swim lessons and since then has never wanted to get out. A nationally top ranked age grouper as both a …

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