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Ralph S. O'Connor
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3400 N. Charles St.
Baltimore, MD 21218


Recreation > Aquatics > Lap Swim Etiquette and Circle Swimming


Lap Swim Etiquette and Circle Swimming

To avoid conflict and make everyone's swimming experience more enjoyable, please adhere to the following Lap Swim Etiquette

Lane Designations

  • When the pool is busy, swim lanes will be shared.
  • Make note of lanes that contain fast, medium, and slow swimmers.
  • Lifeguards monitor the lanes and may alter the configuration at any time.
  • Select a lane compatible with your preferred swimming speed.
  • Lifeguards may assist you with selecting the appropriate lane or ask you to move if your speed is not similar to those in your lane.

Entering the Water

  • Enter the water feet first from the shallow end.
  • It is the responsibility of the swimmer entering the water to make sure the lane is clear of any other swimmers.
  • If there are swimmers approaching the wall as you are preparing to enter,
  • wait until they have turned and started the next lap before entering the water so as not to interrupt their progress.

Circle Swimming

  • Swimmers are required to follow the circle swim pattern. The customary traffic pattern is to stay to the right; that is to swim in a counterclockwise circle in the lane (see diagram).
  • It is the responsibility of the swimmer entering the lane to be sure that all the other swimmers in that lane are aware of his/her presence and the necessary traffic pattern.
  • Always swim complete laps of the pool. Avoid stopping in the middle of the lane, this can interfere with the progress of other swimmers and cause collisions.
  • Stop only at the wall and once stopped, stay in the corner of the lane, preferably in the left hand corner (from the perspective of the approach to the wall). Other lap swimmers need space to turn, always leave the middle 1/3 of the wall clear for turning purposes.


  • Slower swimmers must yield to faster swimmers.
  • Be aware of your space in the lane and orientation of others. If you are approaching the wall and another lap swimmer is gaining on you and swimming at a faster rate than you are, pause at the wall to allow the faster swimmer(s) to pass you.
  • Be courteous of drafting. Provide adequate distance between you and the swimmer ahead of you.


  • Pass on the left hand side. If you are the slower swimmer and being overtaken at the turn, stop, and wait until the other swimmer has pushed off the wall.
  • A pass must be initiated in time to over-take the slower swimmer before the wall.
  • When using kick boards, please be aware of other swimmers in your lane and their needs to pass.

Circle Swim Diagram





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