In a perfect world, you have the freedom to swim in your own private pool with multiple pace clocks placed strategically at each end of the pool.
We all know that the reality is far from this, and if you’re like most – if you swim on your own, it’s at a public facility that’s often crowded with other swimmers.

Seeing other swimmers working out can be extremely motivating, but that doesn’t make it any easier to have to share lane space. If you happen to swim during peak pool hours – like in the morning or evenings, the pool can sometimes look like sharks gathering for a feeding frenzy.
It may be out of your comfort zone, but you know you need to get in! Here are a few tips when you’re swimming in a crowded pool:

1. Know the Pace of Others

When you arrive to a crowded pool, the first thing you need to do is assess the speed and skill level of the swimmers in the water. Many public lap pools will have signs assigned for different speeds. If every lane is full, and you know you’re a beginner swimmer, don’t hop in the lane marked: “Fast”.

2. Circle Swim or Split The Lane

Communication is key! Once you’ve settled on what lane you’re going to hop in, make sure you talk to the other swimmer(s) so you know if you’re going to split the lane (swim sides) or circle swim. A lot of confusion and potential injury can be avoided if everyone knows what the flow of the lane is.

3. Make the Most of Your Space

If you’re in a lane that’s very crowded to the point it’s hard to run your intended workout routine, you may have to resort to extreme measures. That might mean adapting your workout to meet the constraints of space. For example, let’s say you planned on doing 5 x 100s, it might be easier to do 10 x 50s given how the lane is moving.

4. Focus on Technique

When you’re in a constrained workout environment, slowing things down to work on technique can be an excellent way to maximize your time. If you find yourself passing people repeatedly, doing drills or working on technical things like underwater dolphin kicks or pullouts can be an easy way to modify your training session but still get a great workout in.
Related: 5 Freestyle Drills for Beginners

5. Work With Your Fellow Swimmers

If you’re at the wall at the same time as your fellow lane mate, don’t be afraid say hello, and if you’re confident they’re in-between sets, ask them what they’re about to do and share what you’re doing. Who knows, you might even be doing a similar enough workout to do a set together.
Related: Why You Should Wear a Swim Cap

A few more quick tips:

  • Always yield to the faster swimmer in the lane
  • When you’re at the wall, give room for the other swimmers to keep moving
  • Set a schedule ahead of time to avoid crowded pool times
  • Be patient, because other swimmers may not be as persistent as you are
  • Hot tub?

Make sure you have a game plan for not only when you swim, but what you’ll do when you get there. Be sure to checkout all our training plans on MySwimPro to reach your goals faster than ever before!



  1. MIssed an important tip. When passing a slower swimmer while circle swimming, gently tap their toes while swimming close behind. Slow down, and they should then let you pass on the next wall/turn.

  2. Whilst tickling feet can be ‘fun’, why not slow yourself down by reducing your palm area, or just kick. There are also drag nets etc to also assist.

  3. One thing that helps me is to understand what my goals are for the session going in – am I sprinting or doing a longer endurance swim? Once I know that then I know when to yield to other swimmers or when to let them come up on me serve as motivation. Swimmers that start their session sprinting but then tire and won’t let me pass because they are still in the mentality of “I’m going as fast as I can” are really frustrating.

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