Guidelines for squad swimming


To get the most out of each session, you’ll need to bring:

  • Some goggles.  There’s a multitude of varieties, but many experienced swimmers go for the simpler options, such as Speedo Swedish.
  • A cap – we have club-branded swim caps you can buy cheaply.
  • Paddles.  The size of the paddle required will depend upon your experience, and what you’re using them for (technique vs. strength training).  Speedo tech paddles are a good place to start, but it’s worth asking one of our coaches for their recommendation.
  • A pull buoy.  Generally speaking, the bigger the better.  These are provided at most club sessions.
  • Swim fins.  Not really necessary, but some like to use them to practice good body position whilst swimming at speed.  They’re usually available at club sessions that require them.  If you’re going to buy some, get short, stiff, pool-specific training fins.

Pool Etiquette

Experienced drivers know that roads are safer and more efficient when everyone observes a few common courtesies and basic rules. So too in the pool when swimming laps. Just a few shared conventions – observed by everyone – can go a long way towards making lap swimming safer, more pleasant, and more efficient for all.

  • Lanes are seeded by speed. Enter a lane appropriate to your speed and move up or down if necessary
  • Your lane is not set in stone. If you lane is full compared to adjacent lanes then the slowest / fastest swimmers should move up or down to even things out. This should filter across the whole pool so all lanes have approximately equal numbers.
  • Be aware of the direction your lane is swimming. Lanes should alternate directions so that you are always swimming in the same direction as the adjacent lane. This ensures minimal clashing of arms.
  • During morning sessions swimmers will often ‘split’ a lane (each swimming up/back on their own side) When joining such a lane be sure before beginning to swim to alert both individuals to the need to change to a ‘rotation’ format. This is most commonly done by standing in the water in the corner of the lane.
  • When rotation swimming, you should never stop in the middle of a length (e.g., to adjust goggles), as this may cause a trailing swimmer to run into you. Unless you are swimming in ‘split’ format or alone, it’s best to continue to the wall and stop there.
  • When resting or otherwise waiting at the wall you should stay far to one side of the lane. You should specifically avoid standing or floating in the middle of the lane as this interferes with swimmers “swimming through” who need to tag or flip at the wall. If the lane is crowded, you may need to rest out away from the wall along either side of the lane.
  • Most sessions start with an 800m warmup. If you are late or slower you should only complete as much as you can before stopping when the first to complete the warm up finish. This ensures those that arrive on time do not miss swim time. Similarly if you start early you should do extra warmup, starting your 800 at the session start so that those arriving on time still get the chance for a full warm up.
  • Turn in the middle of the lane. This allows those that are resting to stand to either side and for faster swimmers to pass either side (see more detailed guidance below on passing).
  • Swim close the the lane rope / wall. This minimises the risk of clashing hands and arms.
  • Finish your length! Ensure that you move out of the way to allow all swimmers to finish their length. If there are a lot of people in the lane this may involve moving up the pool.


  • Lanes start repetitions in speed order (fastest first) which should mean that there is rarely the need to pass a slower swimming in front. The safest way to pass is for the approaching swimmer to tap the toes of the swimmer in front and for that swimmer to stop at the next wall and let the other swimmer pass. This is particularly the case in slower lanes where swimmers may have less compact strokes and struggle to keep tight to the lane rope / wall.
  • If more than one swimmer is bunched close behind, the swimmer being overtaken should allow the entire group of faster swimmers to pass before pushing off the wall again.
  • If you are going to stop at the wall to let swimmers past swim directly to the wall keeping close to the lane rope / wall you are swimming along and then stand tight in the corner whilst they pass. This ensures you don’t impede the faster swimmers turns.

Advanced Passing

In practise this method is tend only to be used in the fastest lane. Where swimmers being passed may not want to stop the following advice is given. When moving up a lane establish the passing etiquette for the lane before switching to this method:

When passing:

  • Overtaking swimmers should swim down the centre of the lane and be very aware of swimmers approach (who also may be passing). Use open water style sighting if necessary. If the pass is not completed before the turn ensure you turn tight to the side you will be swimming back down. The swimmer being passed will turn in the centre of the lane.
  • If attempting to pass a line of slower swimmers be very careful if you can’t pass them all in one go. Be aware that the swimmers further up the line may not be aware of you passing and may turn into your path. In this rare case you may need to stop and skip part of the length.

When being passed:

  • Always stay aware of the gap behind you to the next swimmer, and try to anticipate when that swimmer is likely to overtake. This is easily accomplished by looking back just before or during each turn, (whether ‘flip’ or ‘open’) and by being aware at where in the length you cross.
  • There is no need to stop at the end to let them pass, though if you do the passing swimmer won’t complain (ensure you stop at the side of the lane). Help the lead swimmer pass by keeping close to the lane rope and turning in the middle of the lane. This allows them to turn either side of you. Be aware which side they turn and give them room either by continuing back along the length by the lane rope or in the centre of the lane. Easing your pace slightly will allow them to get past more quickly
  • Swimmers being overtaken should never stop in the middle of the pool.