Swimming Etiquette FAILS-Guest Blogger “Mama Chris”

My mom has hilarious stories from her first year back swimming after a 40+ year hiatus from the sport (Watch out, Dara Torres!)  She’ll be doing the swim leg of the HyVee Triathlon on training partner Abra’s relay.  I’ve asked her to compile some swim etiquette fails for your amusement and enlightenment.  Be sure to share your favorite swim etiquette breaches for her as well.  I’m a bit disappointed that she left a notable offender (whom she calls “diddler”) from one of her training pools off the list.  Guess how he earned his nickname!

Enjoy! ~Cassie


Swimming Etiquette Fails: By Chris Sampson

Everyone knows that in public pools, lap swimmers need to share lanes.  I have met some wonderful lap swimmers who offer to share lanes without being asked.  They share workouts, give tips, and always are encouraging to novices who are about to tackle a new challenge like the open water swim leg of the HyVee Triathlon.  But, it is called lap swim for a reason.  Swimmers swim up and down the lanes using some sort of stroke that propels them forward.  Do not look insulted if you are in a lane riding a noodle like a bucking bronco throwing a soggy ball if I ask the guard to move you to the open swim area. Unfortunately, I’ve encountered some situations in sharing lanes:

The general etiquette at a public pool is that if someone is swimming in a lane, you should wait patiently at the end of the pool to ask if you can join their lane.  Maybe dangle your feet or stand off to the side of the lane to signal someone on their turn.  Usually they’ll acknowledge you and give permission to join.

Fail 1: After watching a woman swim 6 laps on just one side of the lane and being unable to get her attention, I assumed she was in a zone so I started swimming on the other side of the lane.  After swimming with no interaction for several laps, we bumped hands.  I thought nothing of it until I approached the end where she waited to confront me.  She loudly proceeded to recite the rules of lap swimming loud enough to be heard over the blare of the pool’s rock music.  She said she’d have appreciated me asking her permission to swim.  I begged forgiveness.  She did get even with me though: She moved my fins off of my kick board and took it away from me when she was done swimming.

Fail 2: When I share a lane, I don’t care if I swim with a master swimmer or a woman wearing a float belt doing doggie paddle, as long as we stay on our respective sides.  The most recent etiquette fail I’ve encountered is for someone to doggy paddle on her side of the lane until I got to the end of the pool.  Then she jumped to the middle, started using the blocks to do pull-ups in the middle of the lane so I couldn’t do a turn and hit the wall without hitting her.  She had 50 yards to do her pull-ups AFTER I turned, why couldn’t she wait?  Proper etiquette dictates you move to the side until another swimmer turns, then start your end-of-the-pool calisthenics.

Fail 3: If you want to anger lap swimmers during peak swim times, do not use a float belt to help you.  Instead, use two noodles that take up the entire width of the lane, add fins, and froggy kick.  You will be guaranteed a lane to yourself.

Fail 4: Start swimming elementary backstroke with no idea how to swim in a straight line.  It is okay if your lane partner is training for open water swims and has to practice avoiding swimmers and getting kicked, but it is hard to get a good workout when you’re always on the lookout for the person in your lane!

Fail 5: Cannonball! Enter the lane gently and from the end of the pool.  I was swimming and doing a flip turn when an elderly gentleman did a cannonball entry, almost on top of me!  What possessed him to do that?

Fail 6: Crossing a lap lane in front of a lap swimmer.  I can not get out of the pool with a hop like the young kids can so I need to exit from a ladder at the side of the pool.  Don’t meander in FRONT of people as they’re swimming to get to the side though, wait until they’ve passed.

Fail 7: Towels are for drying off and covering up!  If you need to sit, please sit on a towel, don’t sit bare-assed on the bench. ICK!




  1. OMG the diddler! How could I forget? I guess the rule is it takes more than twice to become a habit, he has a few more times to diddle.

    1. I just remembered the time Abra and I were training at the Y and there was a couple (late teens maybe?) in a lap lane, both with flippers on, she had a string bikini, he stopped at all the walls to do push-ups on the side and she felt his muscles, then she rode him like a dolphin for a lap, the humped underwater, made out above water, and repeated the drill over. And over. And over. And they had friends there just sitting on the deck watching. And other lap swimmers had to share a lane because they were in a lane! I couldn’t decide if it would have been worse had they been kicked to the open swim area with all the little kids though.

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