If ever you have a question regarding lane etiquette, please ask the coach! Remember to introduce yourself to all your lane-mates at every practice as this is a great way to improve communication and make the workout enjoyable for all.
Who should lead the lane? Nothing makes a set run smoother than a great lane leader. The first swimmer in the lane must understand the set and all the intervals, be able to see and read the pace clock and have a good sense of pace. If you typically take it out fast and fade, you are better off swimming the set behind a teammate who will pace the set better. The Lane Leader should use common sense and realize that the way he/she swims the practice affects everyone in the lane. The other swimmers need to support their Lane Leader, politely correcting errors and electing new leaders at the correct times.
Choosing the right interval(s) is paramount to having a successful practice for everyone in the lane. A proper base interval for some can alter from day to day, depending on how one feels or the strokes or distances being swum, but overall, it should be taken from an individuals ability to consistently hold a pace within the aerobic zone (70-80% of Max Heart Rate) for the course of approximately 1,000-3,000 yards. A base interval should be challenging enough to elevate your HR appropriately while still giving you adequate rest between swims, around :05-:10 seconds during an aerobic set and increasingly more during a sprint/recovery/drill series. It is important to stay accountable to both the practice as it is written and the other swimmers in your lane by establishing an interval that everyone can make while not sacrificing the effort or quality of the swimming. If you cannot make an interval more likely than not, you are in the wrong spot, so don't change the interval, change lanes.
With the number of swimmers in our lanes, the need to pass another swimmer in a long swim is almost inevitable, especially in distance sets. The key to keeping the lane running smoothly and help all the swimmers keep the focus on the practice is to determine the passing strategy for the lane before the set begins. Communicate with your lane mates to determine what will work best everybody in the lane! If there are multiple abilities in one lane, choose an interval that works for everyone or go on 3rd or 4th person to finish in at the wall. In some instances, there can be multiple intervals in one lane if space permits. If you feel you are either too fast or too slow for your lane, move to a lane that better suits your ability when available. If you choose to put on fins or paddles, move to a lane that is appropriate for your increased speed if appropriate. Passing in the center in a crowded lane is dangerous and not recommended. Instead, it’s recommended to use this common set of general guidelines across all the lanes:
It is best to make the pass at the walls rather than in the middle of the laps. Here is how it works: Circle right, leave: 05 seconds apart, or: 10 seconds apart when space permits. Use the pace clocks on the walls. Keep your spacing during swims unless you intend to pass.
Passer: Gently taps feet of the Passee.
Passee: At the next turn, pulls over to the Right Corner and stops.
Passer: Makes the flip turn at Left Corner of the wall.
Passee: Starts swimming again, behind the Passer.
In general, when circle swimming in practice, swimmers should make their turns at the Left Corner of the lanes. As soon as the swimmer ahead of you finishes his turn and goes by, you should swim towards the center of the lane, make your turn to the left of the cross on the wall, and push off on what is now the right-hand side of the lane. If everyone does their turns this way, we will avoid crashing into each other.
With regards to resting on the wall in the middle of swims, swimmers should hang on the wall in the Right Corner of the lane. This will allow the other swimmers to continue to make their turns in the Left Corner without interference.
Also, when finishing your swims, be sure to finish as far to the left as possible and continue to make space on the wall so that the swimmers behind you have some room to your right to finish as well.
Arriving Late and Leaving Early
With the hectic lives we are leading, it is almost unavoidable that all of us will arrive late to practice on occasion. When arriving late, you will want to consider that the practice has been designed from warm-up through cool-down, and when you hop into the action midway, you will not be getting the maximum benefit from the practice. Late arrivers can potentially disrupt the flow of a lane if they are not considerate of those busy in the main set.
Here are a few things that you can do to integrate into the practice more smoothly when arriving late:
Talk with the coach to find out what set the lane is doing and how far through the set they are. Do not expect the swimmers to stop and explain it to you.
Wait until the swimmers are resting at the wall to announce your arrival. Do not surprise them by just hopping in and swimming behind them. This often leads to collisions.
Swim at the tail end of the lane and warm-up slowly before raising your heart rate. Once you are up to speed and the interval allows, adjust your position within the lane to one most appropriate for your speed.
Like arriving late, early departures are just part of our tightly scheduled days. Before the set begins, let your teammates know that you will be leaving early. This is particularly important if you are leading the lane. Those behind you will want to make sure they understand the set, the intervals and the send-off times. Also, once you've escaped to the showers, use the hot water sparingly. Those following you when the workout is completed will appreciate it!
Starts and Turns
Negotiating the walls properly leads to a smoother running lane. Imagine that it is Thursday morning, you are feeling great, and you've found a great rhythm. The lane is crowded but has run smoothly through the first half of the main set. All of a sudden there is a traffic jam at the wall. There are people all over the place and no place to turn. The swimmer in front of you just about clipped you coming out of his turn. You begin to think it is safer to swim in the Charles right now! You've lost your focus, your count, your rhythm, and your enthusiasm, and the rest of the practice is a waste.
How can this be avoided? Follow these guidelines for negotiating the walls in your lane and you will encounter fewer traffic hazards:
Pushing Off: The leader in the lane should always be on the far right side of the lane, ready to push off into the swimming lane. The other swimmers should move to the right side of the lane as their turn to push off approaches and as the people ahead leave.
Turning: As you approach the wall for a turn, cross over to the far-left hand corner of the lane once the people ahead of you have passed by. Make your turn in the left corner of the lane and push off along what is now the right side of the swimming lane. If you experience crowding at the walls and there are a limited number of swimmers in the lane, consider leaving with 10 seconds between swimmers.
Finishing: As in turning, finish as far to the left in the lane as possible. Leave wall space so that the swimmers behind you have an opportunity to get to the wall.
Modifying the Practice
Generally, the coaches frown upon modifications to the practices since they have designed each one with certain goals in mind. However, our athletes are free to adjust the sets as they like. Nevertheless, when only some or one of the swimmers in a lane is adjusting, there can be problems. All the swimmers in a lane need to discuss modifications before beginning the set, and they need to agree on the new plan. If it is inevitable that people will be swimming different sets but sharing a lane, they all need to use the proper passing techniques discussed above to stay out of one another's way. That said, the people who are following the coached practice will get priority within a lane over the others. For Example: if you decide you want to swim freestyle during a non-free workout or you are wearing fins, you still need to work with the intervals assigned to the lane you are in.
Following all the guidelines above will help make our practices more beneficial and enjoyable for everyone. It is also important to have a good attitude about the practices and your lane mates. Remember that even if we have different goals, backgrounds, and personalities, we are all here for the same reason… to swim together. Thanks!