Swimming Information

Swimming Etiquette

On Deck

Be there at least 5 minutes before the start of the work out. Get your equipment ready. Take a shower. Don't get in the pool until a coach is on deck.

Team Work

While swimming might seem like a very individual activity, it actually requires a lot of collaboration. It is important that you are aware of your surround ings and work with others in the lane to make your workout run smoothly. During the beginning of the workout, take stock of your place in the lane. Assess your strengths and weaknesses. Knowing this will make figuring out who is going to lead the lane an easier task. Maybe you will lead a kick set, but stay in back during the pull sets, o r vice versa. As you learn about yourself and your lane-mates, be sure to communicate with them, especially when there is a choice to swim a different stroke.

Know The Set

Workouts can be fast-paced affairs, not leaving much time for long explanations of each set. Be sure to listen carefully to the coach when he or she is giv ing the set. Everyone should understand the entire set before taking off.

Watch The Clock

Whether you are leading the lane or bringing up the rear, you should be responsible for keeping track of the number of laps you are swimming and the interv als you are leaving on. (Check out www.wsumastersswimming.org/workouts/paceclock.html for a great description and explanation of reading a pace clock.) If the set is part icularly long or complicated, you might want to make it a team effort and assign one person to count and another to watch the intervals. However, every swimmer sho uld be aware of where you are in the set and when you are coming in. If it is a sprint set, know what times you are "holding" or coming in on each time. If you have diffi culty seeing or reading the clock, you might want to try getting a wrist watch to synch with the pace clock.

Leave Five (Or Ten)

It is important to maintain an adequate distance between swimmers in the lane. If you leave less than five seconds behind the person in front of you, you w ill end up drafting off of them and probably catching up to them. This is frustrating for everyone. If there are only a few people in the lane, you might want to leave te n seconds to make it easier on everyone.

Respect Your Leader

The leader of a set is responsible for establishing the pace of the set. A good leader will pace the entire lane and won't "blow it out" on the first set a nd then die on the next ones. Remember that during challenging and longer distance sets, the leader of the lane will inevitably be working very hard. Even allowingfive se conds between swimmers, everyone is usually drafting off the leader. This will slow the leading swimmer down. If everyone is swimming at the same speed, trade off leading the sets, rather than trying to pass the leader in the middle of a set.

Getting Lapped

During longer distance sets, lapping is often inevitable. This is when the leader of the lane catches up to and passes the last person in the lane. With ma ny people in the lane, you may be at a particular disadvantage at the head or rear of the lane when the first swimmer is leaving 30 or 40 seconds ahead of the last. Every one should be aware of where the others in the lane are.

  • If you approach someone in front of you, tap their feet so they know that you are there. If you are in the middle of the lane, and feel strong and con fident, you can pass them. Do this quickly and carefully. Make sure you are not going to cause a head-on collision.
  • Try to avoid passing someone at the very end of the set, like on the last 25 of a 200. In that case, wait until you come to the wall and ask the perso n in front of you if you can go ahead of them.
  • If you get tapped in the middle of the lane, swim closer to the lane lines to allow the person to pass you. Slow down a little to let them pass, this isn't a race.
  • If you see someone coming up on you as you are turning (actually if you don't see the person behind you, it probably means they are very close), you might want to think about pausing at the end of the next lap. In that case, pull to the right at the wall and allow the next swimmer to do a flip turn and proceed. Give them f ive seconds before taking off (or three if it's really crowded). Try to avoid inserting yourself immediately between two swimmers. This will just get everyone bunched up.

Don't take it personally. Everyone has their good days and bad days.

Lane Spirit

While you may be swimming in a pool with 40+ people, your lane makes up its own little community. A lane that works well together will make the workout fee l good, even if it is challenging. Motivate your lane mates with a little positive feedback. Even a "let's go" can cheer you up in the middle of a discouraging set.

Swimming Lingo

Every group establishes their own language and swimming is no exception, here are some terms that you might hear during a workout:


This is an essential part of the workout. A good warm up allows your muscles to loosen and warm up. Swim slowly at an easy pace. Your heart rate should not be increased much during the first half of the warm up. A normal warm-up is about 1200 to 1500 yards. Wait until the coach gives the warm up to begin swimming.


An exercise that uses just your arms. This usually involves putting a pull buoy or a kick board between your legs to suspend them.


A general term for doing technique specific work during a set. There are many different types of drills and often the coach will explain exactly what he or she wants you to do. After swimming for a while, you will develop a repertoire of drills for each stroke that you may be called upon to use when an imprecise "drill a 50 " is offered.


For example, if you are told to do "4 x 100 descend," you want to come in faster on each successive 100. Take the first one slowly and build your speed on each 100. Look at the clock so you can tell how much you are "descending" or taking off each 100.


To "build a 50" means to increase your speed over the course of the 50 yards so that you are sprinting into the finish.


The first couple strokes after the push off. In breast-stroke, the break out is a strong kick and a stroke underwater. In the other strokes, it is 3-4 stro ng kicks under water and your first 2 strokes.

Pace Work

Keeping the same time and speed during a set. This usually implies going at a moderate speed in order to maintain the same time throughout a set.

Race Pace

Some sets are meant to replicate a meet, so you will be asked to go "100 race pace for a 50." This means that you swim as fast as you would in a 100 yd rac e, but you only swim half that distance.

Main Set

As it sounds, this is the set that you have been warming up for. It is a chance to work hard.


A recovery or "easy" set is often given between sets or after a hard set. This is also called "active rest." Take it slow, use it to recover, and let your heart rate return to normal.

Cool Down

This is the last part of the workout, but it is very important, especially if you have been sprinting or raising your heart rate. The cool down is a recove ry set that allows the lactic acid built up in your muscles to dissipate. Cooling down properly helps avoid muscle soreness.