Don'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

4. If you are leading the set, swim the whole set

Don’t stop if you’re the lane-leader; it can cause those behind you to lose count.

If a lane-leader stops, the second swimmer should continue the set without hesitation; the person stopping should move to the right to allow the rest of the lane to pass. Don’t volunteer to lead if you’re finding yourself needing to stop frequently.

Whether or not you are leading the set, you should not be regularly stopping mid-set; if you are, that is a sign that you should move down a lane temporarily for a speed and interval that is best for you. That said, when you are feeling ready we encourage you to “lane up” and try faster lanes; when you do, you may need to skip a 50 while you’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…), unless the coach instructs otherwise.

It is every swimmer’s responsibility to keep track of where they are in the set and on what interval they need to leave.  Click here to view a video on using the clock at a swim practice.

If you are finding yourself consistently having trouble finishing on time (or are taking too much rest in-between sets), consider moving a lane up or down to find the set that fits you.

6. Swim the set as instructed

Swim the intervals set by the coach, doing the stroke set by the coach.

All swimmers in a lane should be swimming the same part of a set at the same time (except during warm-up). If you find your lane’s assigned interval too fast or too slow for you, talk to your coaches and lane-mates to either agree to a different interval or move to another lane.

Similarly, if you find the assigned stroke or drill particularly difficult, talk to your lane-mates or the coach about how you can complete the set without disrupting the rest of the lane. For example, if the assigned set calls for butterfly and you would prefer to swim freestyle, it may be better if you swim in a different position in the lane than you would normally do to make sure you don’t swim on someone’s feet.

7. Show courtesy and respect at all times

We are literally all in this (swimming pool) together. If you can lead the lane, volunteer to lead for at least one set; if there are too many people in your lane, volunteer to swim in a different lane (with intervals you can manage!); if it looks like you’re slowing someone behind you down, volunteer to swap places with them. If everyone takes just a bit of extra time and energy to be courteous to their lane-mates, practice will be better for everyone.