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Lap Swim Etiquette and Procedures 

Thank you for being a valuable pool user of the Mills College pool. As you know, our pool has become very popular for lap swimming. The gem that is the Mills College pool is no longer a hidden gem. You should expect to circle swim as the rule rather than the exception.

During all lap swim hours we will utilize "pace lanes" and circle swim. The purpose of the pace lanes is to provide some order to the pool from the start of any lap swim time, and make every person's experience more productive, safe, and enjoyable.

The pool will be divided into Easy, Medium, Fast, and Water Walker lanes. Depending on the day and time of day, pool users in the pool, and other programming, there may be a set number of each type of lane. We will try to rotate different types of lanes in some manner to allow all levels of swimmers to enjoy the shallow and deep lanes. (Otherwise, we will not always have the Fast lanes in the deep end.)

The lifeguards and other pool staff will be monitoring and regulating lanes. If they ask you to move, please do so and without argument. They are moving you so that you and other pool users have a productive, safe, and/or more enjoyable experience.

  1. Expect to circle swim. Circle swimming is the rule not the exception. Circle swimming is done when 3 or more people are using the same lane for any type of swimming or continuous movement.
  2. When you arrive, before you get in the pool, choose a lane where other swimmers are swimming the same as you intend to swim. Swim in a lane with people similar skill and intent—similar speed, steady swimming vs continuous laps, in the true tradition of lap swimming. Lanes are not based just on speed, rather skill and intent. For example, you may be a fast swimmer, but on this day do not plan to swim continuously. If there is a lane where people are swimming continuously, that is not the lane for you. Be proactive, find the right lane from the start. Pool users socializing, floating, playing, loitering or otherwise not lap swimming will be asked to move to the shallow end or the spa.
  3. If you need help choosing a lane, please ask a Mills staff member. They are monitoring the lanes, and can help you choose the right lane for you.
  4. When you've chosen a lane, you have two choices to notify the others in the lane 1. sit on the side of the pool and put your feet and legs in, or 2. hold a kick board in the water for the person/people in the lane to see. Make sure they see your legs or kick board.
  5. If you are already swimming and see legs or a kick board, acknowledge a new swimmer in the lane, and continue to circle swim. Please do not ignore them.

If you are continuously being passed, please move to another lane. If you are continuously passing others, move to another lane.

Easy = You are swimming at a casual pace with frequent stops.
Medium = You are a more advanced swimmer, with intent to swim a more continuous swim, but may be taking more breaks.
Fast = You are swimming continuously with few stops, and fully understand and follow the lap swimming etiquette.
Water Walking = At most upon availability expect 1 shallow lane, and/or 1 deep end lane. Walking and/or Aqua Jogging (in deep end) should also be in circle swim fashion.
Circle Swimming = Like driving, you swim on the right side of the lane at all times. Only pass at the end of the lane, NOT in the middle of the lane between swimmers coming from both directions. If you are swimming in a lane, and another swimmer is "at your feet", at the next wall, pull over and allow the swimmer to pass. If you are “on someone’s feet”, at the next wall ask if you can go before them.

The goal is to have 3–4 swimmers per lane. If we have at least 3 people per lane and lifeguards and pool users are able to divide lane use by intent to begin with, then we will not end up with 5–7 people in some lanes and 1–2 users in others and constantly moving people.

If it is a less busy day at the pool, you may "split the lane," having two people in a lane, or a lane to yourself if there are few guests to the pool. Communicate with a lifeguard about open lanes on those less busy days. But please expect to circle swim if more people arrive.

Just like water, use of the pool is flowing, based on the people using the pool on any given day and hour. Knowing the procedures and communicating and working with the lifeguards and other Mills College pool staff in a proactive manner will help you and other people have a more safe, productive, and enjoyable experience. Thank you in advance for making lap swim a safe, productive and enjoyable experience for everyone.

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Last Updated: 7/7/17