In a previous article I discussed the importance of learning and practicing open water swimming (ows). I had mentioned how different that kind of swimming is to pool swimming. Now is the time of the year again when our triathlontraining starts to rev up for a fun season ahead. This means we are going to the pool more often, so I thought this would be a good time to either learn or refresh our memory of proper pool etiquette.
First and foremost, as professional triathlete and swim coach Sara McLarty says, when you arrive at the pool pick a swim lane that reflects your speed and capabilities. Know how fast you can comfortably swim, i.e. 100 yds., then ask a coach or lifeguard which lane is appropriate for you if you don’t know. Also, remember that a swimmer that is too fast for a particular lane is just as annoying as someone who is too slow. Leave your ego in the locker room.
If you are two people in a lane decide who will swim on what side of that lane. Communicate. If you are three or more you need to circle swim. That means you will be swimming on the same side of the lane and when you push off to swim back you swim on the other side of that lane. That is between the the black line on the bottom and either the lane line or wall, whatever the case may be. If you need to pass a swimmer you can gently tap them and make sure that no one is coming towards you on the other side.
When you take a break or switch swim equipment that you are working out with, do it at the end of the lane and move into the corner away from any oncoming swimmer. Make it clear to that swimmer without stopping them that they can continue. It is so important to communicate with each other, before, during and after. Do not enter the pool lane either until the other swimmer or swimmers are aware that you are joining them.
A great way to improve your swim is to join a swim club or a Masters program in your community. It is a fun way to learn and a wonderful way to meet other swimmers with similar ambitions. Out of the three disciplines swimming is the only one where you can do less and still improve. In cycling and running you have to put in the miles. In swimming it is all about technique. Learn the proper technique from a qualified person. Practice it relentlessly and then swim, swim, swim…..You can not win a triathlon on the swim, but you can lose one.
Whether you are a triathlete who wants be on the podium or just wants to finish, do not neglect the swim. Enjoy the open water and the pool. The rewards go way beyond the sport of triathlon.
USAT Florida Region Board Member