Updated April 4, 2021.

Swim Practice Etiquette GuideDon't be that guy.

1. Leave 5–10 feet of space between swimmers

Always swim at least 5–10 feet (or one body length) behind the swimmer in front of you, not on their feet.

“Swimming on someone’s feet” can frustrate and distract that swimmer. If you find yourself consistently in this position, fade back, or ask the swimmer in front of you if you can go ahead of them, or move to the next fastest lane. If you’re the one with someone on your feet, then:

  • Ask that swimmer if they’d like to go ahead of you
  • Kindly explain that it’s distracting you, and ask them to swim 1 body-length back
  • Ask the coach to address the issue

2. Only use paddles & fins when the coach says

When a swimmer uses paddles or fins it can cause that person to swim faster than intended.

  • Move down a lane if an interval is too fast
  • Some swimmers use fins while injured; this is okay

3. Let swimmers behind you finish on the wall


  • When you finish a swim, move out of the way so the swimmer behind you can finish
  • Once you touch, create a line in the middle of your lane (see photo at right). This gives an aisle of space for finishers, and an aisle of space for starters
  • COVID-19 protocol: Keep a distance of 6 feet from other swimmers when not swimming.

4. Swim the whole set

Don’t stop! If you’re leading it can cause those behind you to lose count.

If a lane-leader stops, the second swimmer should continue the set without hesitation. Move down a lane if you’re finding yourself needing to stop frequently.

Exception: We do encourage swimmers to “lane up” and try faster lanes, and they may need to skip a 50 while they’re getting used to a faster speed. This is okay.

5. Use the clock correctly

Leave exactly 5 seconds apart, on a multiple of 5 seconds (:5, :10, :15…)

Follow the intervals exactly.  Click here to view a video on using the clock at a swim practice.

All swimmers in a lane should be swimming the same part of a set at the same time (except during warm-up).

Learn how to swim on intervals; see our “Beginner Swimmer Guide”

6. Be Positive Always

  • Always be positive
  • Only say positive things