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How do pool swim waves work?

Hi All,

Not the ones that make waves, but the ones where you give an estimated time at registration.

Do they split the pool into lanes and have 10 ish people in each lane of similar time groups?

Trying to figure out if you will actually have anyone to aim for or will it end up purely against the clock?




  • jonnnijonnni Posts: 32
    I have experienced 2 different ways:

    1. In waves where they start a group of say 24 swimmers of similar pace together with 4 per lane
    2. Continuous where they set you off every 15 or 30 secs depending on estimated time with fastest first
    You then swim a number of lengths in each lane. e.g. Stratford has a 33.3m pool so there was 3 lanes and you did 4 lengths in each lane ducking under the rope after each set of 4

    My view continuous is much better - you get a bit of a feel for swimming with more people around you and you get a proper race where you can overtake people. In a wave start you only really have the people in your wave to catch so you end up on your own most of the way.
  • ZacniciZacnici Posts: 1,385
    Each entrant gives an estimate for their swim time; the organiser lists from slowest to fastest and assigne lanes accordingly.

    Say there are 6 lanes, the slowest in lane 1, 2nd slowest lane 2 and so on until all 6 lanes are filled, they will be given a start time and assigned a coloured swim cap. This process is continued with each wave whicg are usually 2 mins apart and in theory if the estimate tallies with the actual time a wave exits from the pool every 2 mins, and every so often there is a blank wave to help prevent congestion. If the plan works there should be no more than 4 or 5 people in each lane hopefuly spread along the length of the pool.

    Sometimes in addition to a blank wave they also have a blank lane. This works well when an entrant needs to modify his start time, e.g. has a tummy or equipment problem, they ask the official very nicely for a later start time and will be slotted in where there is a gap.

    Purely against the clock although if someone is in front of you then that is a target as are members of the same wave in the other lanes wearing the same colour swim caps but my thoughts are swim according to your plan as seconds saved in the pool through overexertion could cost a minute or so in the bike or run.
  • AvoneerAvoneer Posts: 174

    Thanks for that - forgot to reply, but it worked out quiet well.

    6 lanes - 4 people per lane of similar times.

    10 seconds between swimmers.

    Off you go.

    Finished middle-ish of my 24 people but had overtaken them all by the half way point on the bike then managed to catch the wave that had finished a few minutes before my wave had started before getting off the bike.

    All good fun and I was worrying for nothing.

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