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Lap Swim Etiquette

When we work together, swim practice can be a wonderful experience for all levels of swimming. So smile and enjoy your workout.

Circle Swimming:

  • When there are more than two people in a lane, circle swimming is required. If there are only two people in a lane, they have the option of splitting a lane.

  • Swim in a counter-clockwise circle in the lane. Down on the right, back on the left.

  • Always swim complete laps of the pool. Avoid stopping in the middle of the pool for any reason, this can interfere with other swimmers and cause collisions.

  • Stop only at the wall and once stopped, stay in the corner of the lane, preferable the left hand corner.

  • If you are approaching the wall and another lap swimmer is swimming at a faster rate then you are, pause at the wall to allow the faster swimmer to go by.

  • Always start, turn and finish at the wall. 


  • If you need to pass in your lane, move up to the swimmer and tap his/her foot. It is inappropriate to grab, pull, or poke the person, but a tap is a clear indication of your presence and your intent to pass.

  • If your foot has been tapped there is no need to stop. Once you are aware of another's intent to pass, slow down just slightly and slide over as close to the lane rope as possible.

  • If the indication to pass has occurred right before the wall, it is appropriate to pause at the wall in the right hand corner to allow the swimmer to advance through his/her turn.

  • If you are passing a swimmer, it is the custom to pass on the left after you have indicated your intent by tapping his/her foot.

  • A pass must be initiated in time to over take the slower swimmer before the wall. In case of ambiguity approaching the turn, the swimmer whose head is closest to the wall has the right of way and the swimmer whose head is behind must yield the turn in the interest of safety.

  • To pass several swimmers in a line the faster swimmer can move to the other side of the lane and change directions. This pass can be done only after being certain the space is clear and he or she is slightly ahead of the line once he/she has turned around.

  • Faster swimmers should give slower swimmers as much space in front of them as possible before pushing off or start their swim just before the slower swimmer reaches the wall to avoid having to pass them right away.

Swim workout abbreviations
  • FR = Freestyle stroke

  • EZ = Easy

  • Fly = Fly

  • RI = Rest interval

  • BR= Breaststroke

  • w/ = With

  • BK = Backstroke

  • Dr = Drill

  • w-up = Warm-up

  • CH = Choice

  • c-d = Cool-down

  • PP = Pull + paddles

  • PB = Pullboy

  • SOC = Stroke of Choice



  1. Backstroke:  One of the four competitive racing strokes. Backstoke is swam as the first stroke in the Medley Relay and the second stroke in the IM

  2. Breaststroke: One of the four competitive racing strokes. Breaststroke is swam as the second stroke in the Medley Relay and the third stroke in the IM

  3. Butterfly:  One of the four competitive racing strokes. Butterfly (FLY) is swam as the third stroke in the Medley Relay and first stroke in the IM

  4. DQ-Disqualified: A swimmer's performance is not counted because of a rules infraction.

  5. Dropped Time:  When a swimmer goes faster than the previous performance, they have "dropped their time."

  6. Electronic Timing: Timing system with touchpads in the water with computer console that prints out the results of each race.

  7. Event:  A race or stroke over a given distance. An event equals 1 preliminary with its final, or 1 timed final.

  8. False Start:  When a swimmer leaves the starting block before the horn. One false start will disqualify a swimmer or a relay team. 

  9. Freestyle: One of the four competitive racing strokes. Freestyle (Free) is swam as the fourth stroke in the Medley Relay and fourth stroke in the IM.

  10. Goals:  The short- and long-range targets for swimmers to aim for.

  11. Heats:  An event having too many swimmers too compete in one heat. Swimmers submitted times are put into heats, slowest to fastest or vice versa.

  12. Heat Sheet:  The pre-meet printed listings of swimmers' seed times in the various events at a swim meet.

  13. High Point:  An award given to the swimmer scoring the most points in a given age group at a swim meet.

  14. IM:  Individual Medley. Event using all four competitive strokes. 100IM-25 each length. Order must be: Butterfly, Backstroke, Breaststroke, Freestyle.

  15. Long Course:   A 50-meter pool.

  16. Non-Conforming Time:   A short course time submitted to qualify for a long course meet, or vice versa.

  17. NT:  No Time. The abbreviation used on a heat sheet to designate that the swimmer has not swum that event before.

  18. Psyche Sheet:  An entry sheet showing all swimmers entered into each individual event with times but not in heats.

  19. Qualifying Times:  Published times necessary to enter certain meets, or the times necessary to achieve a specific category of swimmer.

  20. Medley Relay:  One swimmer swims Backstroke, one swimmer swims Breaststroke, one swimmer swims Butterfly, one swimmer swims Freestyle, in that order.

  21. Scratch:   To withdraw from an event after having declared an intention to participate.

  22. Seeding:   Assigning swimmers heats and lanes according to their submitted times.

  23. Short Course:  A 25-yard or 25-meter pool.

  24. Split:  A portion of an event that is timed.  (i.e. ) A swimmer's first 50 time is taken as the swimmer swims the 100 race.

  25. Starter:  The official in charge of signaling the beginning of a race and insuring that all swimmers have a fair takeoff.

  26. Stand-up:  The command given by the Starter or Referee to release the swimmers from their starting position.

  27. Step-Down:  The command given by the Starter or Referee to have the swimmers move off the blocks. Good indication something is not right start the race.

  28. Taper:  The resting phase of a swimmer before the championship meet.

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