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nhc
July 4th, 2009, 07:10 PM
Hi all, I remember reading a discussion here about what counted as a "lap" (one length versus a round trip), and there didn't seem to be a consensus. I'm interested to know the statistics. So please take the poll :)

stillwater
July 4th, 2009, 07:28 PM
A lap in swimming parlance is one length of the pool. Hence a 500 yard swim is 20 laps.

Others may disagree, but they are wrong.

Why would I lie.

gigi
July 4th, 2009, 07:43 PM
Every coach I have ever had referred to one length as a lap. So that's how I use the word.

I think of a lap as one complete coverage of the course. On a track that is all the way around. Once you arrive where you started, you have completed one unit. In a pool once you get to the other wall you have completed one unit. Going back to the start is just re-covering the same ground. At least that's how I've thought about it.

But people, and it's almost always people who never swam on a team (at least in my limited experience) insist on referring to a lap as a "down and back" and it just confuses me. Maybe it's one of those regional things.

It just seems to me that a "down and back" isn't an actual thing to count. I'd never be able to keep track of where I was if I counted that way

But this question has always intrigued me, so I'm interested to see what the forum decrees - I will be ruled by the will of the people on this one

tdrop
July 4th, 2009, 08:22 PM
Technically a lap brings you back to where you started...right?

I've used the term lap more often to refer to a length of the pool. And, I think most coaches do the same.

Still, I think a length of the pool is the more appropriate term.

jim thornton
July 4th, 2009, 09:20 PM
The question is difficult to answer definitively, but the close reader shall find clues on the 6th definition of Lap, the verb, as outlined on the free dictionary: http://www.thefreedictionary.com/lap

I made the part below easy to find via font size and color manipulation. However, I think this comes pretty close to affirming that a lap is two lengths.

However, if you read down further, to the lap as noun section, 2b clearly states (in apparent contradiction 6 above) that a lap is a single length of a pool.

lap 2 (lhttp://img.tfd.com/hm/GIF/abreve.gifp)v. lapped, lapĚping, laps
v.tr.1. a. To place or lay (something) so as to overlap another: lapped the roof tiles so that water would run off.
b. To lie partly over or on: each shingle lapping the next; shadows that lapped the wall.

2. To fold (something) over onto itself: a cloth edge that had been lapped and sewn to make a hem.
3. To wrap or wind around (something); encircle.
4. To envelop in something; swathe: models who were lapped in expensive furs.
5. To join (pieces, as of wood) by means of a scarf or lap joint.
6. 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.
7. To convert (cotton or other fibers) into a sheet or layer.
8. a. To polish (a surface) until smooth.
b. To hone (two mating parts) against each other until closely fitted.


v.intr.1. To lie partly on or over something; overlap.
2. To form a lap or fold.
3. To wind around or enfold something.

n.1. a. A part that overlaps.
b. The amount by which one part overlaps another.

2. a. One complete round or circuit, especially of a racetrack.
b. One complete length of a straight course, as of a swimming pool.

3. A segment or stage, as of a trip.
4. a. A length, as of rope, required to make one complete turn around something.
b. The act of lapping or encircling.

5. A continuous band or layer of cotton, flax, or other fiber.
6. A wheel, disk, or slab of leather or metal, either stationary or rotating, used for polishing and smoothing.

Kurt Dickson
July 4th, 2009, 09:27 PM
I say this is like using the "word" irregardless. After a time, so many people butcher the English language that non-words actually become words and meanings change (and actually can be found in dictionaries).

Length is one way (25 yard/meter or 50 meter depending on your pool or 13.33 yards if you are staying at the Holiday Inn).

Lap is down and back.

Anybody that thinks different is high.:)

gigi
July 4th, 2009, 09:45 PM
So the noun definition #6 seems to agree with what I was taught...one complete length of a straight course is a lap. Thought so.

But I guess just using "length" is more clear since there seems to be two definitions in play here, and no one can debate the definition of a length...I don't think

jim thornton
July 4th, 2009, 09:55 PM
Let me try one more time to dance around the word lap.

If lap is a verb, i.e., "to lap," it means Swimmer A out-swims Swimmer B by two lengths of a pool, in the process "lapping" him or her.

If lap is a noun, i.e., "a lap," it means a single length of the pool.

Thus, technically speaking, if you lap someone, you must lap them by two laps.

Which may be why a "lap dance" is usually an exercise in frustration and is a misdemeanor in many municipalities.

Please lap up the wisdom I have placed in your lap, be this one of luxury or not, and let us agree forevermore that the only thing we can know for certain is this: He who laps last does not lap best.

jim thornton
July 4th, 2009, 10:04 PM
But I guess just using "length" is more clear since there seems to be two definitions in play here, and no one can debate the definition of a length...I don't think

Evidently, Gigi, you have not followed the Enzyte commercials-- https://www.berkeleybrands.com/enzyte/ -- I am almost certain that Enzyte corporate officers and FDA officials have entirely different definitions of length, with the former arguing that an object can become much longer without any change in actual measurement; and the latter subscribing to the more traditional view that an "increase in length" does, in point of fact, require a commensurate increase in measure.

To over 3 million apparently trusting men (almost all whom, curiously, are named Goober), such semantic debates are little more than a Po-tay-to/Po-tah-to kind of thing.

funkyfish
July 4th, 2009, 10:36 PM
Which may be why a "lap dance" is usually an exercise in frustration and is a misdemeanor in many municipalities.
Is this the first time "lap dance" has appeared in a swim forum?:applaud:

dwlovell
July 5th, 2009, 12:29 AM
Everywhere I swam growing up, a lap was a single length, ie: 50 yard free in a shortcourse pool is 2 laps. This was never taught or defined, it was just, you learned quickly that when told to do a 100 and someone asked, "how many laps is that", the answer would be 4.

I think a lap logically means to traverse a course until there is a distinguishable point of repetition. On circular courses, a lap ends when you come back to the starting point. In swimming it is one length because you come to the wall and turning around to swim back is "repeating" the course. If pools were circular, I am sure a lap would be coming back where you started.

nhc
July 5th, 2009, 01:07 AM
I think of a lap as one complete coverage of the course. On a track that is all the way around. Once you arrive where you started, you have completed one unit. In a pool once you get to the other wall you have completed one unit.


I think a lap logically means to traverse a course until there is a distinguishable point of repetition. On circular courses, a lap ends when you come back to the starting point. In swimming it is one length because you come to the wall and turning around to swim back is "repeating" the course.

I tend to agree with these. I didn't have an answer (that's why I wanted to see the poll), but now I find these interpretations have good basis, because: if you define a lap in a rectangular pool to be a round trip, i.e. the distance you swim back to the starting point, who knows how you swim in the middle? You could swim zigzag before reaching the other end, or you could swim only halfway then turn back... How would you define a lap in a triangular pool? or any polygon-shaped pool? :rolleyes:

Leonard Jansen
July 5th, 2009, 09:03 AM
Is this the first time "lap dance" has appeared in a swim forum?:applaud:

No - it has probably appeared in a number of the forums that discuss Michael Phelps' social life.

-LBJ

frankiej
July 5th, 2009, 10:02 AM
When I think of a lap I think of returning to the point I started at.
Although, I don't count how many "laps" I've done...I just count in meters/yards.

orca1946
July 5th, 2009, 02:16 PM
Track people think full around SWIMMERS know it's to the other end of the pool !

nhc
July 5th, 2009, 04:15 PM
We are in dead heat, 18:18 now.

gobears
July 5th, 2009, 04:32 PM
Every coach I have ever had referred to one length as a lap. So that's how I use the word.....

But people, and it's almost always people who never swam on a team (at least in my limited experience) insist on referring to a lap as a "down and back" and it just confuses me.

Same here. I have never had to clarify that a lap is one length to anyone who has had experience with competitive swimming. I like the definitions that Jim posted. I go with the second highlighted one defining the noun "lap" as one length.

knelson
July 5th, 2009, 05:03 PM
As someone mentioned last time around, if you think a lap is one length, then how come you need to be two lengths ahead of someone to "lap" them? Then again people use a "lap counter" in distance races and that counts number of lengths. In other words contradictions abound.

My opinion has always been the term lap has no place in swimming and don't think people who swim a lot generally use the term. If someone (non-swimmer) asks me how many laps I typically swim a day I will always tell them "x lengths." The term lengths has no ambiguity. Why would you ever use the term "lap" when it's pretty clear from the poll that it's very split as to what the definition of a lap is?

nhc
July 5th, 2009, 05:20 PM
Actually what prompted me to ask the question is not how I use the word--I can always be more specific. It's for me to know what others mean to say, when they say "I can swim ___ laps in ___ minutes", so that I would not feel unduly proud or unnecessarily discouraged. :)

gobears
July 5th, 2009, 05:29 PM
As someone mentioned last time around, if you think a lap is one length, then how come you need to be two lengths ahead of someone to "lap" them? Then again people use a "lap counter" in distance races and that counts number of lengths. In other words contradictions abound.

My opinion has always been the term lap has no place in swimming and don't think people who swim a lot generally use the term. If someone (non-swimmer) asks me how many laps I typically swim a day I will always tell them "x lengths." The term lengths has no ambiguity. Why would you ever use the term "lap" when it's pretty clear from the poll that it's very split as to what the definition of a lap is?

There's an easy answer.

I'll steal from Jim's definition post:

One is a verb: "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." So, you can "lap" the other swimmers in your heat by getting a 50 or more ahead.

The other is a noun: "One complete length of a straight course, as of a swimming pool." So, you can use your "lap" counter to count how many straight courses a swimmer has swum.

Makes sense to me.

Chicken of the Sea
July 5th, 2009, 06:02 PM
A lap is one length of the pool, because it sounds more impressive when you're bragging to a non-swimming friend about how much length you achieved.
:banana:

knelson
July 6th, 2009, 01:35 AM
Makes sense to me.

But it certainly doesn't make it any less confusing.

srcoyote
July 6th, 2009, 10:17 AM
I'm actually more concerned as to whether I swam 100 meters in 2 lengths of a 50m pool, or if I swam 102 meters because I didn't swim straight. And will my time at 100m be official instead of the touch at 102m? How about in a relay?

Redbird Alum
July 6th, 2009, 10:27 AM
:dedhorse: Our records have no mention of laps/lengths. Who cares.

bamueller
July 6th, 2009, 11:59 AM
A lap = 1 length, regardless of pool length (yard, meters, 25, 50, whatever).

The ONLY time I have ever heard a "lap" referred to as a "down-and-back" (meaning 2 laps) is by individuals who did not grow up swimming.

My wife was swimming a week ago and some triathlete was trying to show off for her by telling her his recent tri-times. My wife comes home and says, "I thought a lap was one length? This guys says it is two, and that we swims a mile every time he gets in the pools, which he says is 35 laps."

It is one length.

jim thornton
July 6th, 2009, 12:10 PM
Actually, assuming that the pool is 25 yards long, 70 laps or lengths, or 35 "two ways" amounts to 1750 yards.

Nomenclature aside, the poor deluded triathlete has been swimming just slightly less than 1 mile on every one of his outings.

Your wife should consider pointing this out to him then next time she catches him bragging.

To most people, coming up 10 yards short won't make a difference. But to triathletes, I suspect it might, especially if she urges him to say, during all future bragging sessions, "Every time I go swimming, I swim almost a mile."

bud
July 6th, 2009, 02:40 PM
When you get back to where you started... so two lengths make a lap.

Rykno
July 7th, 2009, 06:50 AM
I've always heard and used lap as down and back. even as a guard the older swimmers would say they swam 33 laps or 64 times across.

gobears
July 7th, 2009, 09:45 AM
I've always heard and used lap as down and back. even as a guard the older swimmers would say they swam 33 laps or 64 times across.

How old? :) Wouldn't that be 66 lengths? Not sure I trust their terminology if they can't multiply :banana:

Rykno
July 7th, 2009, 09:53 AM
How old? :) Wouldn't that be 66 lengths? Not sure I trust their terminology if they can't multiply :banana:

haha, it's me that couldn't do the math or remember correctly :cane:

osterber
July 7th, 2009, 09:58 AM
I believe it has been demonstrated that, by the dictionary, the definition is ambiguous.

In my book, a lap is two lengths of the pool.

But, because of the confusion, I _never_ use the term. If someone asks me "How many laps is a 500 free?" I answer "It is 20 lengths of the pool."

This is also why, back when starters used to announce the event, they migrated to using lengths. "8 lengths of the pool, freestyle. . . Take your mark ..." Also why when announcing bell/gun lap format, the starter would say "The lead swimmer will receive a warning signal with two lengths and 5 yards remaining."

Note also we call it a "bell lap" event, not a "bell laps" event. If a lap were one length, then on a "bell lap" event, you'd get the warning bell with 30 yards or 55 meters remaining (i.e., 1 length + 5 yards/meters), not TWO lengths + 5 yards/meters.

-Rick

stillwater
July 7th, 2009, 10:14 AM
Actually, assuming that the pool is 25 yards long, 70 laps or lengths, or 35 "two ways" amounts to 1750 yards.

Nomenclature aside, the poor deluded triathlete has been swimming just slightly less than 1 mile on every one of his outings.

Your wife should consider pointing this out to him then next time she catches him bragging.


And then tell him "real" swimmers call a mile 1650 yards. He can think about that while doing the show-off stretching routines before entering the pool.

dorothyrde
July 7th, 2009, 11:01 PM
A lap = 1 length, regardless of pool length (yard, meters, 25, 50, whatever).

The ONLY time I have ever heard a "lap" referred to as a "down-and-back" (meaning 2 laps) is by individuals who did not grow up swimming.



Interesting. I did not grow up swimming. So when my kids got into swimming, I of course was confused by this, so I asked the swim coaches of the USA team they were swimming for. They told me a length was once across, a lap was down and back. Both coaches(husband and wife team), were Olympic Trial qualifiers in their day.

Chris Lowe
July 8th, 2009, 08:33 AM
I think verb trumps noun. And common usage outweighs technical jargon. We swimmers know a length is a length but we use the noun lap as a synonym for length, which confuses the common noodler, especially when we use the verb lapped to describe getting two lengths ahead, further supporting the two length definition.

I try to be consistent, I always write out the # of lengths of each rep to further define the yardage, and throw in the phrase "up and backs" to describe a two-length rep - which is inevitably remarked upon as "So you mean one lap?"

Brings me back to survival school, with a pass/fail swim of one mile in less than 80 mins continuously in an Olympic pool (now there's a definition with an absolute standard, right?) around 4 pylons in the corners. IIRC it was 12 laps or circuits, counterclockwise of course.

bamueller
July 8th, 2009, 04:32 PM
Interesting. I did not grow up swimming. So when my kids got into swimming, I of course was confused by this, so I asked the swim coaches of the USA team they were swimming for. They told me a length was once across, a lap was down and back. Both coaches(husband and wife team), were Olympic Trial qualifiers in their day.

Interesting. Perhaps I stand corrected. I will do my own asking around. I have referred to the "lap" as nothing but 1 length of the pool.


And then tell him "real" swimmers call a mile 1650 yards. He can think about that while doing the show-off stretching routines before entering the pool.

Why are the triathletes such easy targets to mock? My wife will call him out next time.

stillwater
July 8th, 2009, 09:02 PM
Why are the triathletes such easy targets to mock?

One could acquire their doctorate ont this subject. There is a wealth of information.

Muppet
July 10th, 2009, 10:57 PM
when discussing a pool, there is no option in the poll for my view - that a lap is a 50. so in a short course pool, a lap is down and back; whereas a long course pool it is one way.

Herb
July 10th, 2009, 11:15 PM
I always referred to a lap as one length like other swimmers but I think it's wrong.

wiredknight
July 20th, 2009, 05:41 PM
If pools were circular, I am sure a lap would be coming back where you started.

So when you are circle swimming, a lap is two lengths, but if you have the lane to yourself (or if you are triathlete and can't circle swim) a lap is one length?

mattson
July 20th, 2009, 06:33 PM
Interesting. I did not grow up swimming. So when my kids got into swimming, I of course was confused by this, so I asked the swim coaches of the USA team they were swimming for. They told me a length was once across, a lap was down and back. Both coaches(husband and wife team), were Olympic Trial qualifiers in their day.

I did grow up swimming, and it was always 2 lengths = 1 lap.
You lap someone by getting a lap ahead.
You see the lap counters every time you finish two lengths.

Maybe it is a cultural thing, like if you refer to carbonated sugar water as either "soda", or "pop".

stillwater
July 20th, 2009, 06:44 PM
Does a lap counter count laps or lengths?

The Fortness
July 20th, 2009, 07:46 PM
Does a lap counter count laps or lengths?

It counts lengths. You show it every lap.

Snot Bubble
July 20th, 2009, 07:51 PM
A lap in swimming parlance is one length of the pool. Hence a 500 yard swim is 20 laps.

Others may disagree, but they are wrong.

Why would I lie.


You obviously rode the short bus to school. Did you ever leave your helmet at home by mistake?

Mr. Furious
July 20th, 2009, 07:56 PM
Does a lap counter count laps or lengths?

Is this a question or are you really trying to embarrass yourself?

nhc
July 20th, 2009, 08:16 PM
Interesting, the "one length" camp, which had been the majority, has now been surpassed by the "round trip", 52:71!

frankiej
July 20th, 2009, 08:54 PM
Interesting, the "one length" camp, which had been the majority, has now been surpassed by the "round trip", 52:71!

Ya, i just noticed that. Jumped ahead by a ton.

wiredknight
July 21st, 2009, 12:41 AM
Does a lap counter count laps or lengths?

Are you referring to the position or to the equipment?
No matter.
Both count laps.
The equipment, by the use of a very clever design technique, automatically makes the conversion of laps into lengths. This is facilitated by the fact that the conversion factor is 1 lap = 2 lengths.
If this were not true, the equipment would be much more difficult to operate.
And it works whether the course is in meters or yards!
If you still think 1 lap = 1 length, take some time at your next swim meet to examine these clever devices and you will be amazed (and educated!)

stillwater
July 21st, 2009, 09:25 AM
Thank you Mr. Knight for the stunning reply. I have looked at a lap counter before, but I'll certainly examine them more closely next time. Perhaps I'll have an Epiphany and change my ways.

When counting for someone swimming a 1650 and asked the question, "How many laps till he's done?" I'll look at my length counter, convert to laps, add one-half and have a reply. Or is it take one-half away?

I had to take my helmet off so I could scratch my head to try figure that one out.

wsmedley
August 29th, 2011, 11:15 PM
OK, so back in the 70's, my coaches referred to a single length of the pool as a "lap," but in my more recent years in the Masters program, a "lap" is up and back (took me a while to get used to it...). Now we call a single length a "link." I'm swimming in a short course pool, so don't know what the long course swimmers call a single length of the pool. Frankly... a mile is a mile, so what you call each trip across the pool doesn't really matter! It's your time on race day that counts!

orca1946
August 30th, 2011, 12:02 AM
Never in my life have I heard of a link ???????
It has ALWAYS BEEN 1 END OF THE POOL TO THE OTHER END IS
A LAP =LENGTH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Maybe your:worms: "I used to coach track , now turned swim coach" calls it that but it is not

Bobinator
August 30th, 2011, 08:13 AM
When I swim Big Shoulder's Open Water 5K the LENGTH of the race is 5K. To reach the distance of 5K I must swim 2 LAPS of the course.
Does this make sense or am I crazy?

2trax4me
August 30th, 2011, 08:21 AM
I always thought of it as lengths and laps. The biggest reason is that I always wanted to "lap" other swimmers in the 500.

200free
August 30th, 2011, 08:59 AM
When I'm coaching I use the word LENGTH in practice not lap in case people have different interpretations of lap. But most of the time we count in 25's, 50's, 100's etc so really there's never a need to know what a lap is.

__steve__
August 30th, 2011, 12:15 PM
Wow, all these years I've been swimming (all 3 of them) I incorrectly thought a lap was two entire length's, i.e., 50 M/Y (SC) or 100 M (LC).

Allen Stark
August 30th, 2011, 12:23 PM
Again,I think this is a frivolous point."Real swimmers" count by distance(25s,50s 100s ,1000s ,5000s,etc)If someone asks me how many laps I swam I know they aren't a swimmer.If someone asks how many yards I swam They may be a swimmer(but one who values quantity over quality,you sprinters know what I am talking about.)

Woofus B. Loofus
August 30th, 2011, 02:07 PM
A little etymology to add to the frivolity.

"Lap" is cognate to a variety of words sharing an Indo-European root, meaning to hang loosely. Thus we have words like lobe, flap, loop, lapse, lip, etc.

In English, lap meant particularly the loose part of clothing, like the hanging end of a skirt or dress or kilt. That's why we sit in someone's lap, and repose in the lap of luxury.

Since a loose end can be "lapped" back onto itself, a circular or enclosing sense has more recently been attached to lap, as in overlap. Or as in doing a few laps around the track. When a race car laps another, it has done one more revolution around the track, overtaking the other car.

So in swimming, as when someone is lapped by Sun Yang, perhaps twice in the same race.

knelson
August 30th, 2011, 04:03 PM
Wow, all these years I've been swimming (all 3 of them) I incorrectly thought a lap was two entire length's, i.e., 50 M/Y (SC) or 100 M (LC).

Why do you say you're wrong? The poll shows that most people think a lap is two lengths.

makesense
August 30th, 2011, 04:46 PM
my vote...

a lap is a round trip, i.e. 2 lengths; being lapped does not mean you are only 1 length behind

in usage though, lap and length mean the same thing....so why try to change the world


PS....this must be a long debate. I asked this in swim class in high school (about 1965). Was told that a lap was 2 lengths.

gobears
August 30th, 2011, 06:00 PM
Again,I think this is a frivolous point."Real swimmers" count by distance(25s,50s 100s ,1000s ,5000s,etc)If someone asks me how many laps I swam I know they aren't a swimmer.If someone asks how many yards I swam They may be a swimmer(but one who values quantity over quality,you sprinters know what I am talking about.)

I agree with Allen. :applaud:

__steve__
August 30th, 2011, 08:04 PM
Lap

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.

from freedictionary

jaadams1
August 30th, 2011, 11:36 PM
Again,I think this is a frivolous point."Real swimmers" count by distance(25s,50s 100s ,1000s ,5000s,etc)If someone asks me how many laps I swam I know they aren't a swimmer.If someone asks how many yards I swam They may be a swimmer(but one who values quantity over quality,you sprinters know what I am talking about.)

I had a very similar thing to this the other week at the Y pool. I was almost finished and the guy in the next lane over asked how many laps or lengths I had done. I told him I was almost at 3000 yards in under an hour. He then asked "well...how many laps is that". I thought about doing the math, but then just said..."I don't know" and continued on with my next set. :)

vndad
August 31st, 2011, 01:47 PM
OP asked the definition of lap as a noun, not as a verb.

By dictionary, a lap is "one complete length of a straight course, as of a swimming pool."

orca1946
September 1st, 2011, 06:20 PM
O K so do you say DONE or FINISHED ??

Food is done & people are finished is the correct way to say it.

I was told this by an english teacher with a masters & doc .

Redbird Alum
September 2nd, 2011, 01:53 PM
OP asked the definition of lap as a noun, not as a verb. ... By dictionary, a lap is "one complete length of a straight course, as of a swimming pool."

Yes, yes, we get all THAT... but isn't it interesting that to "lap" someone, you would have to be at least two "laps" ahead?

Also interesting that this would not hold for track or NASCAR where the "circuit" is round, rather than straight, in which case you "lap" someone" when only one "lap" ahead.

English is a perverse language, after all!

orca1946
September 2nd, 2011, 03:23 PM
American is a mix of all the god & poor language skills of many countries.

knelson
September 2nd, 2011, 03:41 PM
American is a mix of all the god & poor language skills of many countries.

All languages are dynamic. Just read some Shakespeare and you'll see how much English has changed in just the last 400 years.

cheakamus
September 4th, 2011, 11:39 PM
All languages are dynamic. Just read some Shakespeare and you'll see how much English has changed in just the last 400 years.

So true. One day, even "I have swam" will be considered correct.

swimmerb212
September 5th, 2011, 06:13 PM
I want to live in a world where we have one word for going one length of the pool, and another word for going two lengths of the pool. My vote that since we have it handy, let's use the word "lap" to mean "down and back, two lengths, finish where you began."

Or, you know, just call it a 50.

swimon90
September 5th, 2011, 06:50 PM
A lap is down and back
A length is one way.