When you’re new to swimming, there’s a lot to think about. Do you have the right gear? Do you need to share a lane? Should you swim laps nonstop?

If you’ve asked yourself these questions (and probably many others), you’re in the right place! Read on for 6 tips to help you get comfortable so you don’t look like a total newbie at the pool!

1. Wear Your Swim Cap Correctly

Many new swimmers end up wearing their caps sideways without realizing it! When you wear your cap wrong, it won’t fit correctly, and will also add extra drag to your head. 

To put on your cap correctly, make sure the seam on the top of the cap runs from your forehead to your neck. NOT from ear to ear. 

Related: Why You Should Wear a Swim Cap

If there’s any sort of print or logo on your cap, it should be on the sides of your head, not on your forehead. When your cap is on sideways, you’ll get lots of bunching across the top of your head — it should be relatively smooth!

2. Wear Goggles 

Goggles make swimming more comfortable and enjoyable, and protect your eyes from chlorine. The best swimming goggles are slim around your eyes and not too wide. They shouldn’t cover your nose. Save those for snorkeling or diving! 

Make sure the straps are tight, and wear them higher on your head to ensure they stay put when you push off the wall or dive in. Your goggles should not leak excessively. 

Related: 10 Beginner Swim Tips for Adults

It might take some experimenting to find a pair of goggles that fit your face well. You can find darker goggles for swimming outdoors, and lighter goggles for indoor workouts. If you wear glasses, there are also options for prescription goggles.

Many goggles claim to be anti-fog and they are, for a time. Eventually, though, even the fanciest goggles will start to fog up! To get rid of fog quickly, take off your goggles and get them wet or swipe the inside with your finger.

Shop our favorite swim gear on Amazon! >

3. Learn How to Share a Lane

Many pools require swimmers to share lanes during crowded times. If you’ve never shared a lane, here’s the basic etiquette:

Option 1: Splitting the Lane

When you split a lane, each person stays on one side of the lane.

  • Wait for the person to stop swimming (it’s rude to stop someone in the middle of a set!)
  • Ask them if they are ok with sharing
  • If they say yes, suggest splitting the lane: you take one side, they take the other! Stick to your side so you stay out of each other’s way

If you end up in a lane on your own, it’s considered polite to stick to one side of the lane as an unspoken invitation for another swimmer to join if needed. And, if you swim at a pool that allows just one swimmer per lane…you’re very lucky!

Option 2: Circle Swimming

Circle swimming is common for very crowded pools with 3+ people in a lane. This is also how swim teams swim during practice!

  • Ask the people in the lane if they are comfortable circle swimming (Note: only do this if there is NO other option. If you can split with someone in another lane, always do that first)
  • Swim in a counter-clockwise motion, always sticking to the right side of the lane
  • When you get to the wall, slide over to the side so you are not in the way of your lane mates.

4. Do Shorter Sets Instead of Swimming Continuously

A lot of new swimmers think they have to go to the pool and swim a mile without stopping, and that’s so not true! Most experienced swimmers break their workouts into sets for a few reasons: 

  • It’s less boring than swimming continuously, and allows them to focus on different things for different parts of the workout.
  • You can mix up distances, strokes, equipment and effort for different sets for a well-rounded workout!
  • Swimming separate sets can actually be more beneficial and makes you faster!

Related: 3 Swim Workouts for Beginners

Of course, if you prefer to do your swim all in one go, that’s great. But remember that’s not your only option!

5. Work on Technique Regularly

Technique is the name of the game in swimming. As a new swimmer, incorporating drills and technique work will help you swim faster and more efficiently.

Drills include kicking, single arm stroke work and more. Drills isolate a specific part of your stroke to help you improve it. Try these beginner freestyle drills >

You will probably swim slower during drills, and that’s ok! Spending extra time working on drills — or focusing your whole workout on drills — will help you in the long run!

Drills are great as part of your warmup or pre-set. Check out the MySwimPro app for Guided Workouts that include drills and a huge library of Technique Videos! Our beginner-focused Training Plans are ideal for new swimmers who need some extra technique help:

Start a free, 30-day trial of MySwimPro ELITE to find your personalized Plan!

6. Set SMART Goals

When you’re new to swimming, sometimes just showing up to the pool is a big accomplishment! But if you have serious goals, it’s best to get them down on paper.

At MySwimPro, we like to set SMART Goals. These goals are:

  • Specific: What do you want to achieve?
  • Measurable: Tie a number to your goal. 
  • Achievable: Set a goal that you can actually achieve!
  • Relevant: How does this goal relate to you and your long-term aspirations?
  • Time Bound: Set a time frame. When will you achieve this goal?

You’re more likely to achieve your goal if you give yourself a timeline and a specific metric to hit. For example: “I will swim 6 laps without stopping by January 1.” Or, “I will go to the pool 3 times a week for 3 months.” Other goal ideas include:

  • Swim a faster 100 or 200 at the end of 6 months.
  • Reduce your stroke count per lap in 12 weeks.
  • Learn a new stroke and complete a 100 straight in one month.
  • Learn to flip turn, and swim 1 full workout flip turning at every wall by X date.

Swimming is tough, and the road to success isn’t always linear. Stay consistent and positive and you’ll reach your goals. For more coaching, technique tips, Training Plans, and daily Guided Workouts, download the MySwimPro app! For extra accountability, join the MySwimPro Global Community Facebook Group.