The Circle-Swimming Hack You Need to Survive Summer League Practice

No, this is not an advertisement.

But when Folsom Wahoos Swim Team head coach Kathleen Kinsey sent me an email about a system she’d developed to help her young swimmers learn to circle-swim, I became insanely jealous that I didn’t think of this as a summer league coach.

For about $20/lane, coach Kinsey has invented a simple system of “lane dividers” that simultaneously help her athletes stay safe, learn the all-important skill of circle-swimming, and helps keep the motivated during practices.

Anybody who has worked with young, novice swimmers knows that keeping them swimming in a straight line can be a huge challenge – on their stomachs or on their backs. Mid-lane collisions are frequent at these younger levels, and can be quite scary. In meets, these bad habits can lead to significant increase in the actual length swum in a 25 yard race. Here’s how to build simple and cheap lane dividers to keep your practices safer, and give your swimmers practice at swimming on a straighter path.

Note: with really young swimmers, there’s often still enough room to pass -even if the lane is split in half!

Shopping List:

  • 4 bricks for retaining wall $1.98 each at Home Depot
  • 2 cans yellow spray paint $7 for 2
  • line from home depot – I purchased 100 feet with a reel and left the reel attached $5 each at Home depot — use the excess line to adjust enough line at each end to wrap around the brick when in use.
  • 14 noodles from dollar store
  • one cheap broom from dollar store to string the noodles on the line.  I alternated bright colors.  Take the broom off tie a knot to the loop in the end of the broom and thread the line through the noodles.
  • Coach Kinsey’s note: Our pool has a raised deck makes it easy for young swimmers to get to the wall. A flush deck might require a 5 gallon bucket or similar to give the lane divider lift so that swimmers can turn at the wall.


  1. Write inspirational phrases with waterproof markers on noodles
  2. String noodles along line (about 7-per-lane seems to be enough, though you could use more if you want a more consistent divider)
  3. Wrap line around brick. Coach Kinsey Safety Tip: Use the extra line to keep the bricks far away from edge of the pool in the event the kids pull on the center line. We put up safety cones (that we have for dry land) to keep people from tripping over the painted bricks.


Yankee is a heckin’ goodgerl who helped her mom shop at Home Depot. 13/10 would enter in the 25 yard doggy paddle. Courtesy: Kathleen Kinsey

Spray-painted bricks. Courtesy: Kathleen Kinsey

On-deck assembly. Courtesy: Kathleen Kinsey

Lane dividers in action. Courtesy: Kathleen Kinsey

Lane dividers in action Courtesy: Kathleen Kinsey

Lane dividers in action Courtesy: Kathleen Kinsey

Courtesy: Kathleen Kinsey

Inspirational quotes. Courtesy: Kathleen Kinsey

Leave a Reply

Notify of
newest most voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Barry McCockiner
1 year ago

if only our lanes were wide enough

cynthia lyons
1 year ago

Not shocked! I was blessed to be able to swim in college with Kathleen so I have always known she’s creative!

Kathleen Kinsey
Reply to  cynthia lyons
1 year ago

Thanks Cynthia! Necessity is the mother of invention!

1 year ago

This is so awesome! It would be really cool if there were more user submissions with helpful coaching/equipment hacks like this!

About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder of He first got his feet wet by building The Swimmers' Circle beginning in January 2010, and now comes to SwimSwam to use that experience and help build a new leader in the sport of swimming. Aside from his life on the InterWet, …

Read More »