Lap Swimming for Beginners and Lap Pool Etiquette You Should Know

Want to learn lap swimming for beginners? You’re in the right place. We’ve created this handy guide to teach swimming for exercise for beginners. Check out our post for lap pool etiquette and other tips as you get started with lap swimming.


beginner swimmer with proper pool etiquette

How to Lap Swim

There’s definitely a learning curve to lap swimming for beginners, but you’ll have the hang of it in no time when you follow these four steps.

1. Get the Right Gear

You’ll set yourself up for success by having the right gear from the get-go. Choose a simple, comfortable swimsuit that you won’t be worried about or fiddling with during your workout. If you’re going to be swimming often, pick a swimsuit that you don’t mind wearing out in a few month’s time. You may also want a few other items to optimize your comfort level in the pool, including:

  • Towel
  • Swim goggles
  • Nose plug
  • Earplugs
  • Hair cap

2. Choose a Swimming Stroke

Hopefully, you’ve learned a few different types of swimming strokes before you decide to start lap swimming. Most lap swimmers prefer the crawl/freestyle for swimming long distances. This is the most efficient stroke, but it’s also quite strenuous. If you want to lower the intensity, try the sidestroke or breaststroke.

3. Practice Your Breathing Technique

Proper breathing is key to having a good experience in the pool. Watch some videos to learn about breathing techniques for lap swimming. We highly recommend bilateral breathing, which involves switching your breathing every other side, or breathing only on one side every few strokes.

4. Build Endurance

Don’t forget that lap swimming takes practice. You may start out only being able to swim a few laps, but you’ll build endurance over time. Set realistic goals and don’t get discouraged if you tire easily at first. Swimming is a serious workout!

Pool Etiquette Tips

Now that you know the basics of swimming for exercise for beginners, there’s still more you should know before you jump in the pool. These 8 lap pool etiquette tips will ensure you have a good experience with your fellow lap swimmers.

1. Choose Your Lane Carefully

If it’s a busy day at the pool, you may not get a lane all to yourself. Lanes can easily accommodate more than one swimmer, but you’ll still want to choose your lane carefully. Choose a lane with the least amount of swimmers in it, and wait to get in until they can acknowledge that you’re joining them.

2. Stay to the Right

Once you’ve joined a lane, you’ll want to stick to the right side for the entirety of your workout. This is known as circle swimming, meaning you circle the lane in a counterclockwise motion, always sticking to the right-hand side. Don’t cross sides or lanes unless you’re sure you won’t be disturbing anyone.

3. Give Others Space

Polite swimmers give everyone plenty of space in the pool. Don’t crowd in on someone if you’re sharing a lane. Wait about five seconds after the last swimmer has passed before getting in the pool.

4. Allow Others to Pass

Likewise, you want to allow others to pass if they’re swimming at a faster pace than you. Someone may want to pass if they give you a light tap on your foot. Allow them to pass by stopping at the nearest wall.

5. Keep Straight

It may be difficult at first, but it’s important to stay on a straight path when swimming laps. Try looking down at the line on the bottom of the pool, or look up at a specific spot outside the pool for reference.

6. Rest in the Corner

If you’re a new swimmer, you’re likely to get tired during your workout. Take a break by resting in the corner of the pool. Make your way to the corner by swimming across the lanes when other swimmers are out of the way.

7. Push Off Underwater

Other swimmers will appreciate your consideration when you push off underwater, minimizing splashes and big waves.

Check Out Classes at SwimJim

Looking to improve your swimming skills? Check out classes at SwimJim. Our instructors promote a love of swimming by teaching proper technique and competitive swim strokes to swimmers of all ages. Sign up today.