Pro Tips Guide to Circle Swimming

Getting your laps in at crowded pools can be tough. Luckily, circle swimming can help.

On the day of big swim meets, there may be crowds in more than just the stands. With swimmers from multiple teams wanting to get their pre-meet laps in, the pool can get packed.

When this happens, you may have to share a swimming lane with other competitors. Sharing a lane with another swimmer is called “split swimming.” Here you simply split the lane in half to do your laps.

However, you may also have to share lanes with multiple swimmers at once. This is where the tactic of circle swimming will be used.

“Circle swimming is important to understand for your practices and for your meet because that’s the orientation swimmers use while swimming in the pool,” Division I swim coach Marc Christian says.


Circle swimming is a way for multiple swimmers to swim laps in a single lane. The main keys to circle swimming are to stay on the right side of the lane and to be mindful of your lane mates.

Here are other things to keep in mind when circle swimming:

  • Entering the pool: Before you jump in, communicate with the other swimmers in the lane you’re joining. From there, approach the lane on the right side and be sure your fellow swimmers aren’t near the wall. To enter the pool, you should jump feet first into the water.
  • Swimming your laps: Once in the water, position yourself to get started on the right side of the wall. When you push off, try to focus on not drifting toward the center.

“You want to think about it as driving on the road. You’ll want to always swim on the right side of the lane,” Christian says.

  • Approaching your wall turns: When it comes to your flip turn, you should try to approach the wall from the center of the lane. Conduct your turn quickly and immediately move back to the right side of the lane.


It’s important to be respectful of other swimmers in the pool when circle swimming. Here are some simple tips on etiquette:

  • Always maintain communication with other swimmers.
  • Never stop to rest in the middle of a lane. Always rest at the wall to avoid potential collisions.
  • Stay alert for other swimmers coming behind you. If you need to pass another swimmer, tap on their toes. If you need to be passed, wait at the wall for the other swimmer to move ahead.

Knowing how to circle swim can help make your warmups more efficient. For more swim pre-meet warmup tips, check out this guide.