You can probably hear most standard pool rules echoing in your mother’s shrill voice: never run, never swim alone, never swim during a storm, never dive in the shallow end. Even if you don’t follow these swimming rules all of the time, you probably know how to stay safe in the pool. However, safety isn’t the only important principle around the water: You should also strive to be courteous and respectful of the space and fellow swimmers. The problem is, most people don’t.
Frequent swimmers have strict codes of etiquette that ensure the pool is an enjoyable place for everyone, especially during the hot, crowded summer months. This year, instead of offending fellow pool-goers with your appalling behavior, you should practice these five simple rules of swimming pool etiquette.
1. Swim Like You Drive
Most avid swimmers know pool etiquette backwards and forwards, but if you are just beginning to pick up swimming for fun and exercise, you might have quite a bit to learn about the lanes. Unlike the wading pool, the swimming lanes are fast-paced and no-frills; you should be there to properly swim (no doggy paddle) or you shouldn’t be there at all.
In many ways, swimming lanes are like the lanes on a road, which means swimmers should behave exactly like cars:
- Slow swimmers yield to fast swimmers
- Fast swimmers pass on the left
- Passing requires a signal: a slight tap on the left foot of the swimmer in front
Just as more confident, assertive drivers will get angry at those who don’t abide by the rules of the road, longtime swimmers will become irate at swimmers who don’t follow lane customs.
2. Mind Your Kids (and Your Pets)
Children are a handful at the best of times, but you should be especially mindful of your little ones when you take them to the public pool. Even if there is a lifeguard on duty, you are primarily responsible for the safety of your babies, toddlers, and children; you shouldn’t expect other adults in the area to babysit your kids while you relax in the sun. Children can be incredibly disruptive, so you should strive to educate them on pool rules and etiquette as early in their life as possible.
When it comes to furry children, the same holds true: Your pets should be kept on a short leash. Dogs can get nervous around water and wreak havoc at the pool. It might even be best to leave your four-legged friends at home, where they will likely be much more comfortable.
3. Control Your Substances
During the summertime, the pool becomes a popular place for non-swimmers to chill out and survive the heat. Plenty of these non-swimmers bring all sorts of entertainment like stereos, games, and floaties that can clog up waterways. However, most swimmers don’t mind the entertainment as much as they abhor the substances that come along with it.
Non-swimmers often bring along food and drinks to help them wile away the hot summer hours, but these substances can be annoying and downright dangerous around the pool. To be respectful of the safety and enjoyment of others, you should never bring items in glass containers, which can shatter and become invisible under the water. Additionally, noxious cigarettes should be left at home in favor of clean-burning e-cigarettes, which are much less offensive to non-smokers, unless all you do is purposely create huge plumes of vapor.
4. Clean Up
Just because the pool is not yours doesn’t mean you can leave it dirty. When non-swimmers leave some have the bad habit of leaving their trash behind, which creates a disgusting environment for all future pool attendees. No matter where you go, you should always leave the space in the same shape you found it, if not better.
5. Dress Well
The community swimming pool is not the beach — and even most beaches are not welcome to nudists. For your own comfort and that of those around you, you should be fully covered throughout your time at the pool. Of course, no one will demand that women and men wear old-fashioned bathing costumes covering their wrists and ankles. True swimmers do don form-fitting swimwear, but never do swimmers’ suits threaten to slip off. Loosely tied bikinis and thongs — as well as anything see-through— are not appropriate for the public pool.