Public lap swim can be a challenge for triathletes — since it’s basically a free for all, you have little control over outside factors and you might have to put your training plan aside and adjust to the flow of things. Sometimes the lanes are over-crowded, sometimes the speed of the lane is undetermined and sometimes there are other people in the pool who seem to be following a different agenda all together. That being said, it can also be a great place to meet new training partners and get yourself used to swimming in an uncontrollable environment — much like the open water!

Here are the five characters you meet at public lap swim:

The social swimmer

This swimmer will chat with you when you get in the pool, wants to know your swim background and what you’re doing in your workout. They’ll chat with you in between sets, and in the change room. Depending on your mood, this could make the solo monotony of swimming more fun, or it could be annoying.

The swimmer who just sits on the wall

There’s always that one swimmer who gets in a faster lane and spends more time on the wall than actually swimming for the duration of their time in the pool. If you’re trying to flip turn, good luck — this swimmer tends to not move over, and might be too distracted to notice you as they make friends with other swimmers on the wall.

The one who’s not there to lap swim

This person gets in the lane of their choosing and isn’t interested in lap swimming. They might be practicing their deep dives underneath the water’s surface (with or without equipment), floating on their back, or testing out a bunch of different moves mid-lap. Either way, they aren’t too concerned about following lap swim etiquette.

The swimmer that takes things too seriously

This swimmer comes from a strict competitive swimming background — not triathlon — and will aggressively lap you if you’re too slow, ask you not to use a kick board in their lane as it “disrupts the flow of the lane” and generally doesn’t tolerate anyone getting in their way. They expect everyone else in their lane to know how to flip turn.

The potential training partner 

This swimmer shows up at the same time as you frequently, and seems to be about your speed in the water. They might ask to jump in on a few of your workouts, and you might be able to give each other a good push in the water! If you don’t have the availability to attend an organized swim practice every week, making friends at the pool and arranging a small group of  one or two other swimmers to occasionally swim with is a great way to stay accountable to your training and have more fun.