Most gym etiquette is really just common sense. If you get up from a machine and leave a sweaty ass print, wipe it down with a towel. If a lady is running vigorously on the treadmill, it is inappropriate to stare, no matter the bounciness of her breasts or cut of her shirt.

But, this winter has found me in the pool, which, due to a long streak of chilly weather, has seen at least two to a lane almost every time I’ve gone. And while most poolside rules of etiquette are either A) posted B) ridiculously obvious, there seem to be a lot of people who ignore them, so I thought I’d list a few ways not to be a tool at the pool.


Every couple of months (or more, if you swim really frequently), enlist a pal to look at you in your suit while wet, front and back. If it’s see-through, it’s inappropriate. Go shopping. That especially goes for the 65-year-old man with the flesh colored Speedo. You all, I really wish I was joking. You have no idea.

Boxers are not pants. Guys, I understand that the locker room attaches to the pool area, and if you forgot something, it seems like it should be fine to walk out in your boxers — they cover about the same amount as a bathing suit, right? WRONG. We know what could come swinging out of there at any moment, and we don’t want to look — believe me, we do not want to look — but we can’t look away. Just put on some damn pants, man.

Ladies, before you haul yourselves out of the water, take a quick second to make sure everything is in place. You know what I mean.


The sign on the wall states that you must share your lane if someone is waiting, and if more than two people are sharing the lane, you circle swim. So, dude, share your lane. You were stopping at the end of every 50 before I walked up, and I’m sorry, but I don’t believe that you suddenly had to start a super long set, swimming right down the middle, just as soon as I approached.

That being said, if you’re the one walking up to the lane, make an effort to catch the swimmer’s eye before you jump in and almost land on my the swimmer’s head you jerkass. If the swimmer is clearly in the middle of a long set and not looking up, sit on the edge and try dangling your feet for a second to get their attention. If you just jump in and start swimming at me, at best I’ll be startled (and pissed), and, at worst, we will crash, I will be furious, and both of us will be hurt. But especially you. You will definitely be hurt.

If you’re a seasoned swimmer and you see someone who looks completely clueless trying to find a lane, for the love of Pete, throw them a bone and share your lane — it’s scary to be the new kid, and the pool can be intimidating.

And I have one parting word of advice. It’s not really etiquette, I guess, but it’s something I’m ashamed to say I need to remind myself of more often than I should. Your workout is not more important than someone else’s. Yes, it’s annoying that the Gentle Joints Zumba Party for Centenarians (and Beyond!) takes up three of the five pool lanes and the fluff from someone’s Depends is floating by your face. It’s frustrating that you’re having to share a lane with Splashy McDrownerson and you’re choking on the wake he’s creating. But everyone is there to work out, get a little fitter, and feel good about themselves, so just mind your own business, knock out a few laps, and remember that you were probably once a Splashy, and one day, god willing, you’ll join that Swimming for Seniors class.

(Also, don’t pee in the pool. EWWW.)