Lap Swimming Etiquette at the UW Health Sports Medicine Center

Swimmer in a poolThe UW Health Sports Medicine Center has many independent lap swimmers using our beautiful pool and this number continues to increase. We recognize that first-timers and others without experience lap swimming might feel a little uncomfortable venturing into this "brave new world." Please don't be! In general, swimmers are some of the nicest, most helpful folks you will ever meet.


There will be times when every available lap lane is in use. Don't despair! We still want you to swim, and there is plenty of room to do so. To feel comfortable in these situations new swimmers should be aware of how to appropriately share lanes with other swimmers.


How to Choose a Lane


Share This StoryChoose a lane with a swimmer close to your ability (swimming speed). Check with the lifeguard if you're uncertain about the skill level of the swimmers currently in the pool. Next, ask the current swimmer(s) if you can share his/her lane with them. Briefly decide with the present swimmer if you will split the lane or circle swim.

  • Splitting the Lane (2 swimmers max): Each swimmer stays on one side of the lane at all times. Please take care to stay between the floor lane line (black line down middle of lane) and the lane line at your side.
  • Circle Swim (any number of swimmers): If (or when) you are the third swimmer to join a lane, alert each swimmer that there are now three of you and that you need tocircle swim. Each swimmer stays to the right of the floor lane line (in both directions). The swimmer touches the wall in the middle of the lane and continues swimming in the opposite direction on the right side of the lane (when looking down, face in the water). Let faster swimmers pass you at the wall (wait at the wall if a more rapid swimmer is likely topass you and continue your swim behind the more rapid swimmer).

The Sports Medicine Aquatic Center has the following policy to ensure a safe and pleasant lap swimming experience for everybody.


Lap Swimming Etiquette


Welcome swimmers. In order to accommodate all swimmers, we ask that you follow these simple guidelines.

  • Swimmers must share lanes. Choose the lane that best fits your ability before entering the lane. Lifeguards may make lane adjustments to accommodate all swimmers.
  • Lane capacity: Three swimmers per lane unless otherwise agreed upon by swimmers in that lane. 
  • Lane sharing:
    • Two swimmers may choose to split the lane or circle swim.
    • Three or more swimmers must circle swim keeping to the right side of the lane at all times.  
  • Entering a lane: The arriving swimmer will notify the current swimmer(s) of their presence by sitting with their legs in the water or standing in the left corner of the lane until the current swimmer is aware of the arriving swimmer. 
  • When resting on the wall, please move to the corners of the lane to allow other swimmers room to easily turn at the wall. 
  • When passing another swimmer, wait until you reach the wall to avoid mid-lane collisions. Tap the foot of the swimmer ahead of you indicating you wish to pass. The swimmer being passed should wait at the wall for the passing swimmer to turn.  
  • Physical therapy patients have priority in Lane 5 Monday through Friday from 7:30am-5:30pm. If you are swimming in Lane 5 and physical therapy patients would like to access this lane, please ask permission to share the lane or move to another lane. 
  • Lane lines will be removed five minutes prior to the starting of a class.  
  • Please be courteous and responsive if you are asked to move lanes by the lifeguards. The lifeguard on duty has the final say in the capacity and sharing of lanes. 
  • Contact the aquatic supervisors at (608) 265-8350 if you have any questions or concerns.