The Rules of the Pool

August 16, 2012

It’s been an interesting summer at my beloved outdoor pool. Every day the lanes are filled and people are swimming outside from April through December in Rochester NEW YORK! As with any pool however there have been incidents. I see an increasing number of people (and this happens at the YMCA too) … get into it….. over swimming etiquette.

Swimming is for everyone. Yet at the same time it can be very frustrating. Pools are a certain size and accommodate a certain number of people. Let’s face it, not everyone knows the etiquette. So here are the rules as I think they should be:

1. Share the lane:  Unless you pay double the membership fee that I do….. share the lane. If it’s just two of you in the lane, by all means split it. You take one side, the other swimmer takes the other side of the black line. If there are people waiting to get in…. offer to circle swim. really, it’s not the end of the world. In a six lane pool splitting the lane means 12 people get to swim. If there are 13…… share. When you get to the lane, slide into one side of it if the other person is already swimming. If they don’t stop for a “mind if we split the lane” conversation, stand there for a lap or two of theirs, give them a chance to see you before you claim a side and cause a head on collision. If after 2 lengths they don’t slide over to their side, stop them. But be nice. Having your own lane is sometimes a privilege, it’s not a right. If you want your own lane, get an Endless Pool. If you ever arrive on a deck and every lane is taken, and I am there, I will circle swim with you. I don’t care about your speed. I will find a way to make my own workout more creative and not make you uncomfortable of get in your way. The pool is for all of us.

2. If you are smart, you will swim with a swimmer. I was born a swimmer, and swimmers are the best people to share lanes with. Why? Because we have incredible body water awareness and at any given point in time…. I know exactly where you are in the pool. You really needn’t worry about me hitting you…. if you are not a natural-born swimmer then I have to worry about you hitting me. But because I have good body water awareness, I can adjust. If I am the stronger swimmer, I will. No big deal. If you are new to the water I can see why we are intimidating. I bring my own pace clock (I know…. I am THAT girl), I swim with big paddles. But trust me…… you won’t get hit by me. I know exactly where you are and I know exactly where I am. Swimmers know how to adapt, and move to give you enough space.

Oh yes…. I am THAT girl!

3. You might get hit.  I can’t tell you how many times I have been hit due to newby butterfly, scratched by an elementary backstroker, and kicked by a breastroker. No big deal. Not at all. I might swim with my giant garbage can lid size paddles….. I can tell you no one has ever…. and I do mean ever…. been hit by them. See number 2 for why. But let’s face it….. sometimes you will get hit when you swim. No foul…. no harm…. it happens. All it takes in this world to be honest is an I am sorry. Move along.

4. Use common courtesy: I have witnessed some meltdowns in pools. People who don’t know each other throwing F Bombs at one another. Really? It’s just swimming. Realize this: if someone is willing to verbally assault you over sharing a lane…. trust me it isn’t you their issue is with. If Something that small upsets them….. it’s not about the pool. It’s their life they are not happy with. This is swimming for god’s sake. One of my friends swims in New York City and a few months ago a woman she was sharing a lane with became upset and punched her. Punched her. YES….. punched her. The woman was kicked out of the pool and of course her membership revoked. But who does that?????? I guarantee this woman’s life was an unhappy one if she was willing to be that extreme. So use common courtesy. Be a nice person. The pool is for everyone.

5. Utilize your lifeguard: When you arrive at the pool, check in with your lifeguard for a lane suggestion. They are the ones who know the pool and know the swimmers in it. The lifeguards at MidTown know to tell people to go ahead and share a lane with me, they also can tell you who you are most likely to get hit by or who is almost done with their workout.

Swimming should not be dramatic or a source of stress. Life is hard enough, swimming is where life should be good. So be nice, have some courtesy and share the lane!



  1. Some of the finest takes on this I have ever read!

    Thank you bunches for the laughter and truth!

    Now…do we get an animated or audio version of this with cute little pics? I know some guy (hmm… Scott? Yeah, him..) who might be able to work that out.. if it’s meant to be.

    Thanks again! 🙂

  2. and the sarcastic take on it…http://thesarcastictriathlete.wordpress.com/2012/05/07/rage-against-the-chlorine-4/

    i’m totally intimidated by your clock.

  3. Thanks for this. As someone who loves to swim, swam on a masters team and can swim a couple miles though I am pretty slow at it, I appreciate your willingness to share a lane if I show up. You will have to pass me if we circle, I’m ok with that. I am still a little intimidated by the pool at midtown so I have not jumped in yet. But it is nice to know that if I do, there is a lane I would be welcomed into!

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