Lap Swim & Lap Swim Etiquette

Lap Swim

Get in shape in our heated pool! These times are for adults and students 14 and up who are interested in lap swimming. Lanes may be assigned speeds and space sharing is required. To avoid collisions, the lap pattern is “circle swim” - keep your right shoulder next to the lane line at all times. Our lap policy is available at the swim window. Those not participating in the program must remain outside or in the spectator area of the grass. See the current schedule for lap swim times.

One lap of the pool is 25 yards. One mile is 72 laps. Swim caps are not required. Pull buoys and kickboards are provided. Additional equipment such as snorkels and fins are allowed during lap swim only. There is a slow, medium, and fast section of the pool. If you don’t know your level, please ask the staff for assistance.


Lap Swimming at El Cerrito Swim Center involves circle swimming, whenever appropriate. Circle swimming is necessary when three or more swimmers are attempting to swim laps in each lane. Please adhere to the following guidelines when lap swimming:
  • It helps the flow of traffic if you swim in the appropriate lane. The markers at the end of each lane refer to your swimming pace – slow, medium, and fast. The lifeguards can ask you to switch lanes if they feel your speed is too slow or too fast for the designated lane. The speed rule can be overlooked if there are two people per lane; however, as soon as a third person enters the lane, the speed rule has to be observed.
  • If you are the third swimmer entering a lane, please alert the other two that you will be joining them. Circle swimming should then begin in a counterclockwise direction (just like driving a car).
  • Please give each swimmer in your lane breathing room – ideally, swimmers should begin about half of a lap apart.
  • Passing is permitted only if there is room to pass safely and there is no possibility of bumping into another swimmer. Do not intentionally touch anyone, such as a foot to indicate you want to pass, wait until you get to the wall. If you reach the wall and find that someone is close to you, let the swimmer pass you on the return lap.
  • If you notice a swimmer behind you, maintain your pace or slow down slightly allowing the swimmer to pass. Do not speed up! When passing, move to the center of the lane. Once in front of the swimmer you are passing, safely move back into the right hand side of the lane.
  • When you feel the need to rest or take a break at the wall, please do so in either corner next to the lane line.
  • When using kickboards, please be (visually) aware of other swimmers in your lane and their needs to pass.
  • Always enter and exit a lane safely, being aware of other swimmers’ presence.

Other Rules

Youth under 14 years of age will be admitted, at the regular fee, to lap swim as long as they are able to swim continuous laps at all times. Recreational swimming will not be permitted during lap swim hours. Please note: children age 9 and under will not be permitted to swim during lap swim. A parent or responsible adult who is at least 18 years of age must supervise children age 10 to 13 during lap swim.