How to Circle Swim
While everyone loves having a lane to themselves, sometimes when practicing or event at meets, you may end up hasving to share a lane with one or even two additional swimmers! When this happens, you'll need to know how to circle swim! Here’s everything you need to know about circle swimming to keep three from feeling like a loud, angry crowd.
Circle Swimming: What is it?
Circle swimming is what it sounds like: swimming in a circle. In the United States, circle swimming goes counterclockwise: swim on the right side of the black line that runs down the middle of the lane. You will be on one side of the lane going down the pool, and the other side of the lane coming back. Think of the black line as a double yellow line in the middle of a road.
If your lane-mate says something like, “Mind if we circle Aussie-style?” they are asking if you want to swim clockwise. If that’s the case, you will always be on the left side of the lane. It’s like driving in England…or any other country where they drive on the left side of the road. Note: At USA Swimming sanctioned meets you must swim counter-clockwise in the warm-up pool.
When you do stop at the wall, be aware of the swimmers coming behind you. Clear the middle of the lane for those who are going to continue swimming—tuck into one of the corners of the lane if you are going to rest at all.
No matter what type of turn you do when you’re circle-swimming, aim for the middle of the lane. Make it quick, so that no one thinks you're stopping to rest, and keep it under control, so that you don’t whack someone in the face. Open turns are the safest until you are proficient at flip-turns.
Assuming everyone in your lane is approximately the same speed, those ten seconds will create some space between you, making it easier for all of you to conduct your turns without interference. If there are a lot of people in the lane (six in a short course pool can qualify as a lot), 5 second intervals might be more appropriate.
But sometimes, especially at lap swim, you will end up in a lane where everyone is a different speed. If you find that you are significantly faster than your lanemates or if you are going to do some sprints, you might want to wait 20 or 30 seconds before you follow them off the wall. If you are significantly slower than your lanemates, push off immediately after they leave the wall, and it will take a little while longer for them to lap you.