View Full Version : Where to Stop or Turn when Circle Swimming?

July 1st, 2006, 11:40 AM
Apparently the rule is that there is no rule. At least that is the only conclusion I can come up with now after carefully studying a number of texts on the subject. Iím a bit sensitive to the topic right now because of a near collision I recently had.

The web texts referenced to by the recent USMS Swimmer article appear to directly conflict on this issue. (Jul-Aug '06, "Tales From The Deep End")

In the following example it is not explicitly stated prior to the point referenced below which direction circle swimming should be (but it does clarify this point later in the work).
Lap Swimming Etiquette 101 - by Art Hutchinson
ď5) Swimmers resting or otherwise waiting at the wall should stay far to one side of the lane, (preferably at the left from the perspective of an approaching swimmer, or the right from their own perspective looking back up the pool).Ē
(I interpret this to mean that you turn on the same side of the lane that you come in on, since it is later stated that circle swimming is counterclockwise.)

In the following example it is stated earlier in the work that circle swimming is done counterclockwise, or keeping to the right.
USMS - Lane Etiquette - by Samantha Grant
ďIf, conversely, she angles left into the wall, and pushes off to the left of the black cross, she can then streamline straight off the wall and is automatically on the correct side for the return lap.Ē
(The entire context of the point in the above article seems a bit unclear, but apparently the author is encouraging swimmers to angle to the opposite side as you come into the wall and push off the same side you will end up swimming on.)

Most Texts (http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=Lap+Swim+Pool+Etiquette) Iíve reviewed so far (including the sidebar in the recent USMS Swimmer article) are fairly ambiguous regarding where the left or right corner of the lane is. But apparently the perspective is from that of the swimmer coming into the wall. And since many texts are not clear regarding on which side of the lane end marker you should turn, nor do they always clarify in which direction circle swimming is to be accomplished, the ambiguity just gets worse.

It makes the most sense to angle across the lane as you come into the wall and push off on the same side you will end up on as you go away from the wall. This makes the corner that is on the same side as the inbound swimmers the ďdead zoneĒ, or the safest place to stop and rest or let others by.

The above statements should work regardless of which way you circle swim (which is important, since there are places where clockwise swimming is common). And they seem pretty clear and simple to me, but I gotta know folks, am I totally out to lunch here?

I think it is interesting that the photo for the USMS Swimmer "Tales From The Deep End" article shows an inbound swimmer angling over for the turn. Based on my observations of structured practices and the rules at the facility where I currently swim this is apparently the proper way to turn while circle swimming.

Iím amazed at how complicated things can get. (I usually swim on my own, so etiquette in structured practices are pretty foreign to me.) The lane etiquette article by Ms Grant for example goes into a really detailed account for how 4+/lane swimmers can all get their times when touching the wall.

I consider myself very fortunate that I seldom have to circle swim when I practice (which is largely by design, and not a coincidence). But recently, during one of the few times I did have to circle swim, I made the mistake of not asking my lane mates (who were total strangers) ďon which side of the lane end marker do you turn?Ē The results were not a total disaster, but it was an unbelievably close call, and you can bet I wonít knowingly make that mistake again. (I was in the lead and angled to the opposite side to turn as I came into the wall, as per the pool rules. I was totally unaware that there was someone very close behind me trying to do the same thing.)

July 2nd, 2006, 09:14 AM
I haven't read all the articles you listed. But I don't think circle swimming has changed any since I swam in high school 29 years ago. I have two children in USA swimming and this is what I see:

1. counterclockwise swimming - lane rope is always on the right side of the swimmer.

2. preferred spot for resting swimmer is left corner (arriving swimmer perspective)

3. turn in the center of the lane, most like a race, and helps avoid incoming swimmer

I don't circle swim very often, but when I do, I do the same as above. I circle swim in meet warmups more often than any other time. I don't see as much consistency at meets. Resting swimmers sometimes pick the right corner and occasionally there are resting swimmers in both corners.

July 2nd, 2006, 10:21 AM
One of the pools I swim in you swim in 1 lane one the right side the next lane on the left side and so on. This is so you are swimming in the same direction and you will not get the arms tangled up with a swimmer swimming in the opposite direction in the next lane. Each lane has a sign up of clockwise or counter clock wise. I really prefer this especially when there are 6 swimmers in each lane going like the devil.

Could not go swimming yesterday July 1st all the pools here closed for CANADA DAY. Our outdoor pool 2 min walk from my house is open today from 1 to 4 and every day for the summer, has two lanes for lap swimmers.

July 2nd, 2006, 12:28 PM
When circle swimming, I generally try to turn in the center of the lane, using open turns instead of flip turns. If I do flip turns while circle swimming, I either bump into the person behind me or start flipping crooked to get out of the way (often both). Ideally, swimmers would stay spaced out enough that only one person would be inside the flags at a time, but that is unfortunately pretty rare. If you need to rest, rest on the side of the incoming swimmers, as far out of the way as you can get. If someone is resting on the outgoing side, I usually assume they are about to start swimming.

July 3rd, 2006, 10:26 AM
Thanks for the responses so far.

Iíve never seen alternating CW/CCW lane arrangements, but I read about it in one of the texts I viewed and it makes a whole lot of sense to me. Though I guess it could be a problem if closely matched-speed swimmers ended up right next to each other.

Turning in the middle, taking long rests on the incoming side, and preparing to take off on the outgoing side makes a lot of sense. The SNAFU for me there is that most of the facilities Iíve swum at have lanes that are so narrow that this would be moderately difficult for even the most skillful and streamlined of swimmers, and skillful streamlined swimmers are not typically the norm at open lap swim times.

The common sense thing of course is to find out what the rules are for the facility you are at and abide by them. But if these rules are not posted on deck, or otherwise readily available (like on a facility web site), it can become a bit of a free-for-all. Iíve seen lap swim etiquette info for my current facility, but not posted on deck. (I recently raised this issue where I swim, so time will tell.)

I find it interesting that even in 2 of the 3 replies here so far there is conflicting information on where to rest (which adds to the free-for-all effect).

I like the statement that ďIdeally, swimmers would stay spaced out enough that only one person would be inside the flags at a timeĒ. That is pretty clear and easy to remember, and I donít recall seeing that idea expressed quite like that anywhere Iíve looked so far. The general rule seems to be 5 to 10 seconds of separation, with the fastest swimmers leading off (which also makes sense).

What Iíve taken away from my recent full-speed near head-on collision is that when circle swimming in an open lap swim environment you have to communicate with your lane mates every time someone new arrives. One of the texts I read stated it very well, ďif you donít communicate verbally, you are going to communicate physically.Ē Iíve experienced varying degrees of cooperation in the communication arena, but I reckon that is just life in motion.