Swimming Safety & Lane Etiquette

Due to constraints on pool time, pool size and even lane width, swimmers are quite often forced to swim in heavily populated lanes. This increases the possibility of accident or incident.

Swimming in lanes requires organisation, discipline, a high degree of awareness and common sense. If any of these are lacking then the risk of accident/incident is greatly increased. Please read the guidelines below and adopt them whenever swimming in a lane environment.

Always be aware of where other swimmers in the lane are. Common sense is vital at all times.

This can be difficult when training hard and under pressure, nevertheless safety must always take top priority.

Finally – please remember that people are there for different reasons. Please ensure that good lane safety and etiquette prevails at all times to allow a safe and enjoyable session for all.

General Safety

Do not dive inDo not dive in at the shallow end and only dive in at the deep end if the Coach advises that you should do so. If you are told you can dive in then look before you do so to ensure the water is clear of other swimmers. This is your responsibility.

Take care and be aware. There was an incident last year where someone swam straight over another swimmer, physically pushing them under in the process – this is not acceptable behaviour!

Do not wear watches or jewellery in the water – they can scratch, cut, catch on lane ropes and get lost.

Pushing off to Start

The quickest swimmer should lead, with the other swimmers following in descending speed order. This ensures that people are not held up and a safe distance is maintained between swimmers. If varying strokes, ensure that the quickest goes in front.

If you are leading then it is your responsibility to watch the clock and go at the correct time.

Interval Between Swimmers

Leave 5 seconds between swimmersAlways leave 5 seconds between swimmers. Watch the clock, do not just ‘go when it feels right’ as you will usually be too close to the person in front and you will mess up the timing for those behind you. All sessions are planned around a 5 second interval.

If you cannot see the clock then either count or go when the swimmer in front has passed fully under the 5 metre flags (as this equates roughly to 5 seconds).

Do not push off immediately after another swimmer

Do not push off immediately before another swimmer coming in to turn.

Please make allowances for the varying abilities that occur in some lanes. Slower swimmers have as much right as faster swimmers. Be considerate.


Stay over to the side of the laneStay right over on your side of the lane.

You should not be swimming down the black centre-line, as swimming down the middle is both selfish and dangerous.

This is obviously difficult when swimming in an outside lane (especially when steps protrude into the pool space). In this sort of scenario, common sense and awareness must prevail.

Be aware of those around you at all times. The power of a breaststroke kick or a butterfly arm is potentially DANGEROUS (quite apart from any impact injury itself, a blow can easily render someone unconscious in the pool). It is your responsibility to make sure that your swimming does not result in an accident.

If swimmers are doing butterfly in both directions, then single arm fly should be done when passing each other (the motionless arm being the arm nearest the swimmer in the same lane).

Do not overtakeDo not swim right up on people’s feet and do not overtake. If you are faster then ask if can you lead them on the next rep.

If you do not want to go in front of a slower swimmer then it is your responsibility to slow down and hang back as it is off-putting having someone right on your feet.

Do not hold people upDo not stay in front if you are holding others up If someone has caught you up on one rep then let them go in front on the next rep.

If you intend to move positions in the lane, try and notify others of your intent at least one repetition before you do it. Having it thrust upon you that you have 5 seconds less rest with 5 seconds notice is unacceptable and can ruin the set for others.


TurningOn approach to the wall, start moving from your side of the lane to the centre of the lane. Execute the turn at the centre of the lane pushing off to the other side of the lane.

Be aware of other swimmers when you kick off the wall out of a turn. Swimmers swimming in opposite directions very close to each other make this a likely time for collisions and where swimmers are kicking off hard, with head down, this can be potentially dangerous.

Coming in to Finish

FinishingDo not finish your swim 5 metres out. Swim all the way in to touch the wall.

Once you have touched, move out of the way to the other side so that others can complete their length in turn. Do not stand blocking the wall for other swimmers, this is selfish.

Sitting Out a Rep

If you are sitting a rep out then it is your responsibility to keep out of the way of those who do want to swim. Keep right in to one side or get out.

Only rejoin at an appropriate place/time.

Finally – Please pay attention to the Coach or any pool staff at all times and comply with any instructions you are given.