Lane Etiquette is arguably one of the most important parts of competitive swimming. Being with the same people everyday in training, you start to notice the rules they ignore. Until now, these rules have been unrecorded, as people assume everybody knows them. From what you guys have told me, people defiantly do ignore the rules of Lane Ettiquette! The following is a guide on the top 4 most important rules, how to follow them and how to get others to follow them!
1. People Who Swim In The Middle Of The Lane
There’s nothing like cruising during warm up, or sprinting during a hard session, looking up and seeing some idiot hurtling toward you at what seems to be the speed of light. You have to make a snap decision in that moment: do you swim to the side or dive underneath them? This will depend on where you are, if you’re near the lane rope and can’t go any further, the easiest way is to dive under, do some dolphin kicks, and re-surface once they’ve passed over you. It’s extremely important to dive deep to prevent smashing into each other!
But what can you do if you’re the one swimming in the middle of the lane? Your stroke may have a natural tendency to swim further to one side, especially during freestyle and backstroke, and this is something that can be fixed with the help of your coach. It should be a priority for you, as middle-lane swimmers are likely to annoy the hell out of your teammates (and potentially injure them if you both can’t move out of the way quick enough)
2. When You Try To Turn/Finish And People Are In Your Way
We all know the story: you’re swimming into the wall to turn or finish, and just before you’re about to turn, you realise people are in your way. If you’re finishing, aim for a small space of wall between two people. (Obviously, if you’re doing butterfly, you may want to consider stopping short of the wall. You don’t actually want to knock anyone out…ya know, unless they’re super annoying.)
If you’re doing a flip turn, you will need to be extremely careful if people are in your way. The safest option is to do a touch (or breaststroke) turn instead. This way, you’re basically doing the same thing as a finish - finding a small space between two people - but as you touch the wall, people should move out of your way and give you enough room to push off. If they don’t, more fool them, push off anyway! If you have told people about stopping on the wall before and they haven’t got the message, this will surely kick some sense into them! I’m not condoning actually pushing off a person or anything, but kicking them lightly or splashing them as you surface will hopefully make them understand.
If people still don’t move, it’s time to let your coach know. They’ll be able to sort it out once and for all!
3. Feet Touchers
Perhaps one of the most hated people in swimming are feet touchers.
They’ll stay behind you for an entire set, touching your feet with every stroke, but make no move to go in front of you. What can you do about them? If you’re on an interval and are able to quickly speak to them, you can tell them to stop touching your feet or tell them to go in front of you. If you can’t stop swimming, a good idea is to swim quite close to the lane rope, and hopefully they will get the hint and overtake you. If not, stop swimming and hold onto the lane rope until they pass you.
But what if you are the serial foot-toucher? Quite simply: either slow the hell down or overtake the person in front of you. It’s not hard to make a decision, and trust me, people will rather you overtook them than sat on their butt the whole set, so don’t be afraid to make the move.
A word of warning though: NEVER overtake someone then slow down. It will infuriate them even more. If you are the person who does this…..good luck. You’ll need it when your teammates tell you off!!
4. “Slow” People
I received several complaints about “slow” people and how they 1) hold up the lane 2) skip laps 3) mess up time cycles.
First of all, I would like to say just because someone is slower than you, doesn’t mean you should make fun of them or be an ass about it. Maybe they do struggle to make time cycles but you shouldn’t really be paying attention to them, concentrate on your own cycle and let your coach speak to that person (maybe getting them on a different cycle or putting them in another lane)
If the person cannot keep up and/or has been overtaken several times, they may opt to skip some laps in order to keep up with the rest of the group. Personally, I do not have a problem with this. I mean, put yourself in their position: what would you do?? The exact same thing, I’m sure. This becomes a problem when the personal is intentionally slacking off. If this happens, it’s best to tell the person that it isn’t on or let your coach know so they can deal with it.
Some coaches like for everyone to finish before starting a new set. If somebody is a few laps behind, it means that you will have to wait for them, thus “holding up the lane”. Trust me, the person knows that they’re behind and is dreading touching the wall and having everyone staring at them. They feel bad that you have to wait for them. So don’t antagonise them when they finish; smile at them or tell them “good job” or “keep it up!”. Encourage them, don’t cut them down. After all, them finishing later means you get more rest!
If you are the person who is a bit slower than the rest of the group, hang in there. If you want it bad enough, you will improve and you will get faster. If people are being mean to you, you have two options: you can smile and bare it, or you can tell them to stop. If it gets really bad, tell an adult (like your parents or coach) they will be able to tell them to shut up, because making fun of you is bullying, and bullying is never okay.
Being in a pool everyday with the same people, little things they do can be extremely annoying, but hopefully these tips will help you deal with those issues and resolve them. If you have further questions, feel free to ask here.
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