Triathlon Plus and’s coaching editor Phil Mosley helps you get the most from every triathlon swim training session by stopping fist drills turning into fisticuffs.

If you swim in a public pool you may already have experienced lane rage. It’s the anger you feel when your carefully planned swimming swimming for triathlonsession is gradually ruined by a slow moving granny who’s bobbing along on her back, or a baggy-short wearing buffoon who thinks he’s Thorpedo and keeps pushing off the wall right in front of you. Maybe your lane even has a ‘Fast Lane’ sign that gets conveniently ignored or misinterpreted by everyone else except you? The list of rage-inducing sins is a long one.

I’m sure most of you realise that lane rage isn’t always someone’s fault. Most often it’s just a bunch of people with different goals and abilities, all going about their leisure time in their own way. They don’t all understand pool etiquette, or know you’re training hard for a triathlon. Not that it makes you feel much better.

So we’ve got a few pointers to help you stay calm and get the maximum benefit from this less-than-ideal swim situation.

Swim drills

The best way to train in a packed lane is to throw in some drills. Next time you’re forced to slow down by a lane-crawler try reverting to one arm only, or doing the doggy paddle. There are many drills you can try, and if you do them well they will form a useful part of your training.

Turn early

Overtaking in a packed lane is a sure-fire way of inciting rage in fellow swimmers. Sometimes it’s better to turn mid-length before you reach the wall, putting you in front of the plodders without you having to plough past them. Think about it as an opportunity to practise your open-water starts by kicking really hard for the first few seconds to get up to speed.

Look the part

The more you look like a serious swimmer, the more space people seem to give you. So kit yourself out in some mirrored goggles, a swim hat and some sleek Speedos, even if your swimming prowess doesn’t yet match your new go-faster image.

Know the rules

The rules of lane etiquette are good to know, but don’t assume everyone else has heard of them. If someone behind you touches your toes you’re supposed to let them overtake you at the wall. In reality, bumping someone’s toes can backfire and get you into an argument, so use your best judgement. There are other rules too, like if you’re standing at the end of a lane you should give other swimmers space to turn and kick off. You should also allow at least a five-second gap before you push off behind them so you’re not instantly on their toes.

Seek help

Despite all this advice, swimming in a busy lane may still hinder your training. So if it’s happening too often you need to take steps. Find a quieter session, or another pool. Or better yet, join a triathlon club or a masters swim group. I only ever seem to improve my swim when I train with a club and plenty of top athletes agree with this.’s Lane Rage Moments

“I was swimming along in my local pool, training for Ironman Lanzarote, and unbeknown to me I was holding up a woman behind me. Two seconds later she grabbed hold of my ankle and dragged me backwards, so that she could slingshot past me. We ended up having a big argument and then she got out two minutes later.”

James Dando

“I was doing a hard 400-metre time trial and all of a sudden this lad appeared directly underneath me breaststroking an entire length with his breath held. It gave me such a fright that I stood up and yelled an expletive that embarrassingly echoed all around the quiet pool. He didn’t try again though…”

Liz Hufton

This article originally appeared in issue 28 of Triathlon Plus magazine – get your first six issues for just £6 here!