Skip to main content

Gym Swimming Pool Etiquette

  • Author:
  • Updated date:

As an athlete, I spend a lot of time in swimming pools - an average of two to three times per week. I swim at both a YMCA and a Gold's gym, but I've noticed people don't have a clue about swimming pool etiquette in either of these gyms. The lack of swimming pool etiquette appears to be a universal problem!

I find it very disturbing that most people have no concept of swimming pool etiquette. If you swim at a pool or have a desire to swim at a pool, it is in your best interest to learn about the etiquette!

This article contains some friendly tips for you to apply next time you’re at the gym pool. Become part of the solution, not part of the problem with public swimming pools!


By all means shower before you get in the pool. Thoroughly rinse yourself off. I have seen way too many people simply enter the pool without showering. This is gross. Showering removes your hair product, your sweat, your deodorant, the dirt on you, and everything else. Getting in the pool without showering simply pollutes the water.

Lap Lanes

Lap Lanes


Don’t pee in the pool. Even if you think other people pee in the pool, don’t do it. This is gross.


Don’t wear your workout clothes in the pool, especially after you work out. The sweat and stuff in your clothes will simply come off in the pool. Wear swim trunks and shower with them on to clean them too.

No Lollygagging

If there are lap lanes in the pool, the pool is setup for people to swim laps…not for lollygagging such as alternating dips from the hot tub to the pool to cool off. This is not acceptable. Use the shower to cool off instead.


I’ve had a few altercations with pool ‘’walkers”. Last time I checked it was called a “swimming pool”…anyway, I don’t necessarily have a problem with pool walkers. If, however, there are several lap lanes and several walkers, it is much easier for a walker to share a lane with another walker than with someone swimming laps. I also had a walker once refuse to share a lane with me. This is unacceptable…as a swimmer we constantly have to share lanes. The same rules apply to walkers.

Lap Lane Etiquette

Lap Lane Etiquette

Lap Lane Usage

The general rule is if there are two of you (swimmers, not walkers) in the lane, you each choose a side of the lane and stay on that side during your swim. If there are more than two people, everyone swims in a circle with the lane divider always on your right side.


If you are sharing a lane, swim freestyle or you can use a kickboard. If you want to swim the butterfly or breaststroke, wait until a free lane opens up. These strokes take up too much of the lane and you will constantly hit the other person in the lane.

None of this during Lap Swim Time!

None of this during Lap Swim Time!

Kids / Family Time

If the entire pool is setup with lap lanes, it is not the time to bring your family into the pool with floaties and toys and everything else. Please check the pool schedule for the “Family” or “Open” swim times. Lap swimming is for lap swimming…imagine that!


CalSailor on March 22, 2018:

If there are more than two people, everyone swims in a circle with the lane divider always on your right side.

Sean, this confused me, too, when I read it. I think she's referring to the floating rope lane divider, not the center line painted on the bottom. If you look at these drawings as omitting the floating lane markers, and seeing the bottom marker as shown, then you swim with the edge (and the missing float rope symbols) to your right. The bottom line is in the article for orientation to the swimmers. If you read it as having the floating divider (which is the only marker that can be seen in all strokes; backstrokers can't see the bottom marker when they swim. Having been one, I know about that all too well.) to your right, then the diagrams make sense (I think)

But, you are right, I think it would have been better had they put in the rope lane dividers it would have been clearer.

PR Chris

Sean Connery1 on March 21, 2018:

I'm confused about the lap lane usage since there's direct contradiction in this article... The diagram mentions to swim to the right of the divider but the author writes that the divider must be to the right of the swimmer. In other words, the diagram says to swim counter clockwise but the author says to swim clockwise. Which one is proper?

Dana Turek on August 24, 2017:

How can slower swimmers share the lane. Keep in mind that in order to be a fast and long swimmer you have to start off slow. What about older swimmers { good swimmers slowing down}. This is not team swimming.

sarah foz on November 02, 2016:

this guy is stupid! He obviously doesn't swim very much..that is his way, not the correct way!

Solorya from Oklahoma on April 30, 2013:

Thanks for the tips! I grew up just swimming in my backyard and the ocean, so joining a gym for the first time at 28 I had no clue what to expect when entering the pool. Simple and helpful--thanks!

DJ KJ on October 13, 2011:

Great! This is a well written article. Thank you. I still don't understand how many people can actually swim in pools like they have in LA fitness for example. There are three lane markers (long the floor) and two lane dividers, creating three lanes to swim. I am comfortable using one full lane because I use the bottom floor lane marker as a guide to be in my lane. But sometimes people ask whether they can share the lane with me and I am not comfortable with it. Since I cannot be rude, I accept it. But in such a pool, with 3 lanes, is the right etiquette/rule to have 3 people swim or 6? I am referring to swimming laps and not waling.

Chad on October 01, 2011:

I'd like to add a couple or questions to see how others feel? I've seen a number of people blowing out there nose up on the cap or spitting phlegm. I find this disgusting and will call any swimmer out on it. The other is people that don't thoroughly wash off makeup before getting in the pool. Those oils float on the surface which is where your water intake is.

test on October 01, 2011:


TroyM on August 02, 2011:

Nice Hub... Keep it up!

seb on October 21, 2010:

I like your article. Unfortunately at the pool I used to use it was the little kids who I am sure would pee in the pool. There was always a gang just before adult lap swim with several little boys giggling away at nothing in particular so I always wondered. I love swimming, but more people should read your article. Lane etiquette was a big problem and then I got a horrible rash. Until I can afford my own pool ( never) I'm back to just running.

VivekSri on June 24, 2010:

Good hub as usual, kea. Hang on there with more and creative pool ideas. Liked your hub.

Karen Reader on May 05, 2010:

I agree with Kenny, that is just absurd!

kea (author) on March 26, 2010:

@Kenny - in my experience, people need to be told a lot of things that the rest of us find common sense. Cheers.

Kenny on March 26, 2010:

Is it really necessary to tell people not to pee in the pool? I think this is common sense, at least I hope it is.

Related Articles