PDA

View Full Version : The Great Debate - Laps



hazeleyedg33k
November 12th, 2008, 03:55 PM
Hello! I'm a newcomer to swimming laps, and I'd like everyone's input on a debate I'm having with a friend who also swims.

What is technically a lap?
I say it's based on distance. If you're in a 25m pool - then a lap is down and back. If you are in a 50m pool - then a lap is the length of the pool one way.

He says a lap is the length of a pool.

Can someone solve this battle for us?

Thanks!

swimshark
November 12th, 2008, 04:18 PM
Down and back, no matter the length of the pool

aquageek
November 12th, 2008, 04:29 PM
A lap is the distance between two walls, not down and back. And, don't start with that being a length. No such thing as a length in swimming.

srcoyote
November 12th, 2008, 04:31 PM
I use whatever definition used by the person I'm talking to.

hazeleyedg33k
November 12th, 2008, 04:33 PM
See - I'm starting to think this is the Ultimate Debate topic in Swimming
:argue:

:chug:

The world may never know - but please keep responding....it's fueling our debate here and it's making us both laugh that we're not alone.

:D:bliss:

Lump
November 12th, 2008, 04:35 PM
In my 30+ years around and in swimming I've NEVER heard a coach call a "lap" down and back.

200 laps in SCY is 5000 yards
200 laps in SCM is 5000 meters
200 laps in LCM is 10,000 meters

So to me and everyone I've ever known in the sport a lap is "one length" of the pool.

mjgold
November 12th, 2008, 04:45 PM
I don't know why this is a debate. The dictionary defines a lap regarding sports as the completion of one full circuit from start to start when there is more than one. Therefore, by definition, a lap in swimming is going down and back, since going down and stopping doesn't return you to your starting position. In track, a lap is when you go all the way around the track, but they still have races that are shorter than 400m. When you do the 100m, you aren't doing one lap and 400m is four laps, you're just doing a 1/4 of a lap. I'm not sure why this is so widely argued.

quicksilver
November 12th, 2008, 04:46 PM
I've always referred to a length as a lap. Same with the coaches and officials.



But, what happens when you "lap" someone?
That's 2 more lengths than they swam.

aquageek
November 12th, 2008, 04:50 PM
I knew someone would bring up the whole track angle. Swimming isn't track and field and our playing field isn't an oval. Go on a field trip to any competitive swim club and walk up to the coach and say "how many laps in a 500?" I'll wager all of Hulk's casino winnings that 9/10 of them will say 20 and then look at you like "why such an idiotic question?"

mjgold
November 12th, 2008, 04:51 PM
Everyone I know says that one length of the pool is a lap, and so do I when talking to other swimmers. I just never understood where that came from, since it seemingly contradicts the definition of a lap.

inflictfreedom
November 12th, 2008, 04:56 PM
Always thought a lap was there and back...seems right, but then again ... maybe its one of those darned homonyms.

thewookiee
November 12th, 2008, 04:58 PM
I knew someone would bring up the whole track angle. Swimming isn't track and field and our playing field isn't an oval. Go on a field trip to any competitive swim club and walk up to the coach and say "how many laps in a 500?" I'll wager all of Hulk's casino winnings that 9/10 of them will say 20 and then look at you like "why such an idiotic question?"


I will take you up on that wager. I usually say "laps" as down when talking with fellow swimmers. But from several years of swimming at the Y, it has come to be useful to be able to understand and use both verision based on who you are swimming with.

Noodlers will consider a lap down and back. Swimmers usually consider it down.

aquageek
November 12th, 2008, 05:16 PM
John - thanks for checking in with your noodling pals, their input on swimming matters is always valuable.

mjgold
November 12th, 2008, 05:24 PM
Just as a side note, I ran track when I was younger, so maybe that's why I naturally think of a lap as up and back.

stillwater
November 12th, 2008, 05:33 PM
In track, a lap is when you go all the way around the track

Run Forrest run.

In swimming, without a doubt, eight laps is 200 yards in short course , 400 meters in long course, and never question this again.

hazeleyedg33k
November 12th, 2008, 05:39 PM
Ok - this is also fueling a debate in my office - and we just came across this official definition via the USA Swimming official website (http://www.usaswimming.org/USASWeb/DesktopDefault.aspx?TabId=456&Alias=Rainbow&Lang=en).

Lap:One length of the course. Sometimes may also mean down and back (2 lengths) of the course.

So I guess that means everyone is right! :bliss:

knelson
November 12th, 2008, 05:39 PM
And, don't start with that being a length. No such thing as a length in swimming.

I disagree. I hear people use length all the time in swimming, and no experienced swimmer uses "laps."

The point about "lapping someone" being two lengths is certainly a good argument for a lap being there-and-back.

mjgold
November 12th, 2008, 05:51 PM
Run Forrest run.

In swimming, without a doubt, eight laps is 200 yards in short course , 400 meters in long course, and never question this again.

Hey Magellan, navigate your way down to my next post where I said I understand that almost every swimmer associates a lap with a length, and that I use the term that way when in said company. Maybe Magellan isn't a good nickname, since he didn't finish his trip either.

knelson
November 12th, 2008, 05:54 PM
mjgold: who exactly are you replying to?

mjgold
November 12th, 2008, 05:55 PM
mjgold: who exactly are you replying to?

I just added the quote since I posted it after you had responded. Sorry for the confusion.

aquageek
November 12th, 2008, 05:55 PM
Here's the truth - if you hear someone say "length" you know they aren't a swimmer but one of The Wookie's noodling buddies. They probably also wear board shorts to swim lenghts and consider the 100 meter dash in track and field to be one lap. Don't trust the neophyte swimmers from the West Coast - Starbucks profits were down 97% and they are all mad that their sole industry is on the skids.

knelson
November 12th, 2008, 05:58 PM
I don't know. Talking about "laps" in swimming must be a North Carolina thing. I don't hear anyone asking "how many laps did you do?" Seriously, any kind of swimmer is going to tell you how far they swam in yards or meters and will never discuss either lengths or laps.

But I do recall the starter at meets using terminology like "500 yard freestyle. 20 lengths of the pool..." I have never heard the starter say "20 laps..."

mjgold
November 12th, 2008, 06:03 PM
No one from my team actually uses the terms "lap" or "length" during the workouts or even at the meets unless they are explaining things to someone new (e.g., explaining how far a 200 is, etc.). We don't say do two laps easy, we say do a 50 easy. As far as being a swimmer or not, I've heard them say "length" during the Olympics and Worlds plenty of times, yet I've never heard them say "lap".

On a side note, I just noticed that Grant Hackett retired. That sucks.

aquageek
November 12th, 2008, 06:08 PM
Seriously, any kind of swimmer is going to tell you how far they swam in yards or meters and will never discuss either lengths or laps.

I agree but the question posed wasn't about yards but about lap/length.

You are too close to Canada to have meaningful input. They use meters and therefore are the outcasts.

hazeleyedg33k
November 12th, 2008, 06:29 PM
See, I've heard the swim team that practices while I'm swimming call out distances instead of laps, but where I grew up (the midwest), everyone taught us kids to swim "laps" and it meant down and back. I learned it worked like the following:
An olympic pool is 50m. A "lap" is 50m. If you are swimming in a pool that is, say, 25m - then a "lap" is down and back.

My friend has always believed that a "lap" is just down.

I'm sure that coaches and teams all over see things how it works for them. Not sure about the attitudes about noodlers vs swimmers - just thought it was an interesting topic to bring forth. I guess I'll be a noodler until someone alerts me I'm not anymore
:chug:

Please feel free to keep giving insight - I'm loving the responses....gives everyone here a good topic to continue to debate.

Big Jim the finger
November 12th, 2008, 07:07 PM
It is sheer folly to deny a difference between laps and lengths.

Length - simple, it is what it says, you go one way and finish at the opposite end of the pool. Noodles or otherwise.

Lap - you finish where you started - JUST LIKE TRACK -

Any difference in perception is only due to faulty coaching and probably green underwear.

quicksilver
November 12th, 2008, 07:26 PM
Good answer:

"When you swim a 1650 in a race and you have someone count for you the lap counters count up to 66 laps not 33.
So if those plastic things we use to count say a 1650 is 66 laps it is 66 laps. Isn't that why we call them lap counters?"

http://the17thman.typepad.com/my_weblog/2008/05/what-is-a-swim-lap.html

knelson
November 12th, 2008, 07:26 PM
I learned it worked like the following:
An olympic pool is 50m. A "lap" is 50m. If you are swimming in a pool that is, say, 25m - then a "lap" is down and back.

Now that's just plain weird. I think you can make an argument for a lap either being a single length or two, but having it be dependent on pool length is nuts.

Kurt Dickson
November 12th, 2008, 07:37 PM
Down and back, no matter the length of the pool

Agree. One way--length. Lap--down and back. I think the term lap should be banned because everyone knows what a length is but for the last 35 years I have been swimming competitively, I have heard "lap" used to mean either 25 or 50 yards.

ensignada
November 12th, 2008, 09:35 PM
Good answer:

"When you swim a 1650 in a race and you have someone count for you the lap counters count up to 66 laps not 33.
So if those plastic things we use to count say a 1650 is 66 laps it is 66 laps. Isn't that why we call them lap counters?"

http://the17thman.typepad.com/my_weblog/2008/05/what-is-a-swim-lap.html

Too funny. I've always wondered why they're called "lap cards" when they count lengths. :dunno:

Brian Stack
November 12th, 2008, 09:38 PM
Length - simple, it is what it says, you go one way and finish at the opposite end of the pool. Noodles or otherwise.

Lap - you finish where you started - JUST LIKE TRACK -

And NASCAR!

So when one is swimming a 500, and the guy in the next lane passes you around mid pool on his way back from the wall you are approaching, has he "lengthed" you? :shakeshead:

hofffam
November 12th, 2008, 09:57 PM
This is swimming. Track doesn't matter in any way.

If you are asked to count laps for someone swimming the 500 or longer, what do you count? You count lengths. That's the number you put on the lap counter signs you show the swimmer underwater.

mjgold
November 12th, 2008, 10:41 PM
No one has asked me to count laps. I've been asked to count lengths. If they meant laps, they would have asked me to count laps, but that would be stupid because I'd have to be where they started.

knelson
November 13th, 2008, 01:21 AM
This is swimming. Track doesn't matter in any way.

No, I think it does, because:


If you are asked to count laps for someone swimming the 500 or longer, what do you count? You count lengths. That's the number you put on the lap counter signs you show the swimmer underwater.

I think the lap counters are a carryover from track. In track you definitely are counting laps. They just retained the name for swimming even though they actually count lengths, not laps, in swimming.

nhc
November 13th, 2008, 01:27 AM
Lap--down and back.

"Down" to the bottom of the pool and "back" to the surface. :agree:

FlyQueen
November 13th, 2008, 08:30 AM
Answer
One would think that 2 lengths of the pool is a lap -- that is from start to the end of the pool and back (seems to make sense, right?), however, according to the rules of the Olympic games, a lap is one length of a pool. This is how competitive high school and college swimmers count laps, as well.




The above is quoted from wiki ...

aztimm
November 13th, 2008, 09:24 AM
I rarely hear any real swimmer use the term, "lap," but my interpretation is down/back. The only time I hear, "lap," is maybe from someone in my office who doesn't swim will ask me, "How many laps did you swim?"

We always discuss the distances in yards or meters. This morning my workout was about 3700 yards, and I don't really care how many laps that is.

beluga
November 13th, 2008, 09:31 AM
What would you like the answer to be? You'll find ample evidence that

1 lap = 1 length of a pool
1 lap = 2 lengths of a pool

I support the theory that 1 lap = 1 length
My supporting evidence

almost all competitive swimmers, coaches, judges I've met use lap and length interchangably

My government issue Webster's Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary defines a lap as:
"the act or instance of traversing a course (as a racing track or swimming pool): the distance covered". The course of a pool is 25y, 25m, 50m, etc, not out and back.

http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/laps'& defines a lap as:
2A One complete round circuit, especially of a race track
2B One complete length of a straight course, as of a swimming pool

USA Swimming defines a lap as
"One length of a course. Sometimes may also mean down and back (2 lengths of the course" (e.g. Gun lap is two lengths)

Commercial LAP counters only have odd numbers and are used at opposite the start end of a pool, thus each lap is a length

NJ High School swimming rules state that LAP counters, who use the above commercial LAP counters, may either count up or down (though you'll incure the wrath of the judges/colorado timers if you count down)

I refuse to believe that the Olympic 50m Freestyle is a half-lap event

It ticks off those who insist that a lap must start and ends at the same location (not according to my dictionary's)


However, if you prefer 1 lap = 2 lengths, there's ample evidence to support that position too.

Leonard Jansen
November 13th, 2008, 10:08 AM
Agree. One way--length. Lap--down and back.

What he said.

Besides, since almost all swim races (except the 25 yard, which is an unnatural perversion), are of an integer multiple number of two lengths, there should be a term to denote two lengths - i.e. lap.

-LBJ

mjgold
November 13th, 2008, 10:08 AM
By that same logic, you should refuse to believe that the Olympic 100m track event is a quarter-lap event or the 200m a half-lap event.

ktnmymug
November 13th, 2008, 10:35 AM
LAP = Length Across Pool

knelson
November 13th, 2008, 10:45 AM
LAP = Length Across Pool

Oh great. Now we've got people arguing that "lap" is really an acronym! :)

mattson
November 13th, 2008, 10:50 AM
I'm with Kirk. I've always thought one length of the pool, and you lap someone when you get two lengths ahead of them. By the same token, if someone tells me they are going to swim a number of laps, I'll take the time to find out if they mean lengths or laps.

The counters for a 500 keep track of the number of lengths swam, and you only see them every time you finish a lap (aka lap counters). :bolt:

aquageek
November 13th, 2008, 10:57 AM
I recall during the Olympics multiple times Rowdy would state the number of laps during a race and then quickly sort of stutter and then also say the number of lengths, which was always the same number. He would say the numer of lengths for the non-swimming noodlers in the audience so as not to confuse them. Real swimmers knew what he meant before he had to clarify for the noodlers.

Red60
November 13th, 2008, 11:09 AM
Among swimmers, I get the use of the word "lap" as a verb--that is, to pass someone by a circuit's worth. But the lap as a noun doesn't really compute. Don't we tend to speak in distance? 100s, 200s, etc.? I never use the term, and am always brought up short when somebody asks me, "How many laps in a mile?" This is like asking me how many cubits. I am a supporter of standard units of measure in these matters. This the problem with "lap" as a noun: is it a single or a double; is it a LC or a SC single or a double.

I vote to strike the word (lap, n.) from aquatic diction.

abc
November 13th, 2008, 11:24 AM
Lap = there and back (equivalent to two lengths)

Anyone who says differently don't know squat.

alphadog
November 13th, 2008, 11:37 AM
While I agree that this debate is meaningless in the sense that competitive swimmers generally state distance rather than laps or lengths, I grew up with the understanding that a lap was down and back whatever the course.

Matt makes a good point. Lap counters are displaying the number of lengths at the end of each lap. So aren't they "length by lap" counters really?

We already have a word for distance between one wall and the other. It seems pretty wasteful to use two words for one concept.

stillwater
November 13th, 2008, 01:04 PM
I'll bet you anti-lap, pro-length people are lane splitters too.

LMH
November 13th, 2008, 01:18 PM
The lap counters count by two, so they do not count down and back as 1 lap.

Redbird Alum
November 13th, 2008, 03:57 PM
LAP - What I allow only my wife to sit on (lest she beat the bejeesus out of me)

Length - something requiring a unit of measure to describe.

alphadog
November 13th, 2008, 06:03 PM
From the USA Swimming Website

Gun Lap "The part of a freestyle distance race (400 meters or longer) when the swimmer has two lengths plus five yards to go. The starter fires a gun shot over the lane of the lead swimmer when the swimmer is at the backstroke flags. "



If a lap is the same as a length, shouldn't the starter fire the gun from the other side of the pool?

alphadog
November 13th, 2008, 06:12 PM
Nope, they count it as two lengths...or one lap.

3strokes
November 13th, 2008, 09:58 PM
I agree but the question posed wasn't about yards but about lap/length.

You are too close to Canada to have meaningful input. They use meters and therefore are the outcasts.


A length is a length is a length whether 25y, 25m or 50m (or at some Hotels that vaunt an Olympic-sized Pool, maybe 12.639 yds.) And yes, in Canada, we do measure things in metres (which are easier to use for bigger things, but let's NOT go there.)
:canada:

3strokes
November 13th, 2008, 10:02 PM
It is sheer folly to deny a difference between laps and lengths.

Length - simple, it is what it says, you go one way and finish at the opposite end of the pool. Noodles or otherwise.

Lap - you finish where you started - JUST LIKE TRACK -

However to define a swimming lap via a track lap definition, would mean that, after two lengths, one would have to come out of the wall into the water.............

:badday:

3strokes
November 13th, 2008, 10:04 PM
So when one is swimming a 500, and the guy in the next lane passes you around mid pool on his way back from the wall you are approaching, has he "lengthed" you? :shakeshead:

Not necessarily, but it might mean that HIS name is Michael Phelps.

3strokes
November 13th, 2008, 10:08 PM
No one has asked me to count laps. I've been asked to count lengths. If they meant laps, they would have asked me to count laps, but that would be stupid because I'd have to be where they started.

However, counting lengths means you have to count lengths in twos,
otherwise you'd be running up and down the pool to announce: one, two three, four, and up to 30 (for a 1500 LCM).

We never used visible counters in the "old" days but yelled at the turns: 100, 200, three, four and up to eight, and then we would start yelling seven, six, five, four, two, go like Heck.

3strokes
November 13th, 2008, 10:11 PM
LAP = Length Across Pool

That's a width..............:afraid:

3strokes
November 13th, 2008, 10:14 PM
This is like asking me how many cubits.
This one's simple:
The English yard (http://forums.usms.org/wiki/Yard) could be considered to be a type of cubit, measuring 12 palms, ~90 cm, or 36 inches (3.00 ft). This is the measure from the middle of a man's body to his fingers, always with outstretched arm. The English ell (http://forums.usms.org/wiki/Ell) is essentially a kind of great cubit of 15 palms, 114 cm, or 45 inches (3.75 ft).
:bolt:

3strokes
November 13th, 2008, 10:16 PM
LAP - What I allow only my wife to sit on (lest she beat the bejeesus out of me)


... and SLAP is what you get if you do get caught letting someone else sit on ........... well, you know what I mean.

Typhoons Coach
November 14th, 2008, 11:42 AM
Even my 8 and unders know that a lap is two lengths. That means down and back = a lap, and just down (or just back) is a length.

Peter Cruise
November 14th, 2008, 03:17 PM
I have an abject dread that this discussion will draw out the best or most accurate way to measure a pool crowd...the horror...

Typhoons Coach
November 14th, 2008, 03:31 PM
I have an abject dread that this discussion will draw out the best or most accurate way to measure a pool crowd...the horror...

haha....a thread that just won't die!

3strokes
November 14th, 2008, 06:41 PM
I have an abject dread that this discussion will draw out the best or most accurate way to measure a pool crowd...the horror...

You don't mean "How many laps are in the stands"? Please say you don't mean it......

nhc
November 14th, 2008, 06:49 PM
This debate is going to improve your techniques and strengthen your muscles!

Typhoons Coach
November 14th, 2008, 07:39 PM
This debate is going to improve your techniques and strengthen your muscles!

Absolutely no doubt about it! Long live the idiocracy of the lap vs length debate!

nhc
November 14th, 2008, 08:07 PM
Ha, actually, it will definitely make some people swim faster--those whose definition of a lap is the shortest length of all definitions. They can say "I swam xxxx laps in only xx seconds", while the others have to say, "i swam half of xxxx laps in xx seconds". :agree:

SwimStud
November 14th, 2008, 08:14 PM
Sports To get ahead of (an opponent) in a race by one or more complete circuits of the course, as in running, or by two or more lengths of pool in swimming.

That's 1 more length than "down" or "back" depending on the end you start.

As in a complete cycle or loop, or back to where you started.

:D

Brian Stack
November 14th, 2008, 08:19 PM
Not necessarily, but it might mean that HIS name is Michael Phelps.
Go figure. :confused:

nhc
November 15th, 2008, 02:23 AM
For all practical purposes, we should just take a poll and the majority wins.

mattson
November 16th, 2008, 06:09 PM
Sports To get ahead of (an opponent) in a race by one or more complete circuits of the course

I'm waiting for someone to say they've heard someone use "circuit" on the pool deck. :banana:


For all practical purposes, we should just take a poll and the majority wins.

A majority believing something doesn't always make it right. Sometimes it just makes a lot of people wrong. :afraid:

Ripple
November 16th, 2008, 06:48 PM
I tend to count a lap as being two lengths, for the very practical reason that my poor oxygen starved brain tends to lose count towards the end of long swims and it's easier to keep track of the smaller number.

Mary1912
November 18th, 2008, 12:47 PM
I am with Beluga on this one.

And my point is that no matter what the dictionary says...what matters is how the term is used. Lap=length is the most common, applicable usage in the sport.

aquageek
November 18th, 2008, 03:03 PM
Here's proof that a lap is 25 yards/25 meters/50 meters(LCM):

http://www.usms.org/longdist/1hr_3k_6k_splits.pdf

osterber
November 18th, 2008, 04:12 PM
IF someone asks me "How many laps in a 500 free?", my answer would be "20 lengths of the pool". So technically, I'm not answering the question asked. But I know they are probably thinking lengths.

Back when the starter in the race announced the race distance, it was always done in lengths. "Swimmers step up. 8 lengths of the pool, freestyle. Take your mark.... <beep>."

-Rick

SwimStud
November 18th, 2008, 04:32 PM
I'm waiting for someone to say they've heard someone use "circuit" on the pool deck. :banana:

We used to swim in circuits when I as a kid. We'd divide the pool up into blocks and swim circuits in those. No walls...just corners and lots of room to overtake :D

shark
November 19th, 2008, 02:14 PM
Ok - this is also fueling a debate in my office - and we just came across this official definition via the USA Swimming official website (http://www.usaswimming.org/USASWeb/DesktopDefault.aspx?TabId=456&Alias=Rainbow&Lang=en).

Lap:One length of the course. Sometimes may also mean down and back (2 lengths) of the course.

So I guess that means everyone is right! :bliss:

Decided by committee vote I'm sure. The committee wouldn't want to upset anyone.

Lap is one length to swimmers.
Lap is two lengths to everyoneelse.

Sorry I'm late.