What is one lap in swimming?

Swimming Lap is another term for "Swimming Length"...

Measuring your swimming in laps should not be a thing, as this type of measurement is not precise, mostly due to the fact that there are different pool lengths. Only complete beginners insist on thinking about swimming distances in terms of swim laps, but as soon as you learn a bit of swimming... You start counting swimming distances in meters, yards, kilometers etc.

If you are here, reading this article to justify your Lap counting... Please stop using laps and move on to world swimming standards - meters and kilometers. You can also count in yards and miles, if you are inside United States and swim in 25 yard pool, specifically.

What is a lap in swimming?

Logic tells us... Lap should mean a full turn, so in theory - lap when swimming in a pool should mean swimming forward and back to complete a full lap.

But wait, there's more! To confuse everyone so much more, let's look at how dictionary explains the word lap:

1. One circuit of a track during a race.
2. A stage in a swim consisting of two lengths (or one length) of a pool

You saw how when it comes to swimming pools, it can be both a single or round length of the pool? When in any type of "more round" situation like a stadium or circuit - lap would mean a full course around it. But not when swimming, the term itself is confusing.

In other words, lap should be only used by those beginner swimmers that don't know how long their pool is. Please don't use term laps, it's misleading and can lead to confusion. Children usually refer to laps, because it's easier for them to know that they swam 10 laps instead of doing math and telling you that they swam 500 meters.

What terms swimmers use instead of laps?

Swimmers don't use term laps when training or referring to distance, they use meters (or yards). Swimmers say: 5 x 50 instead of saying 5 laps. They say kilometer, instead of 20 laps.

Different pools - different lap lengths

There are 3 main types of world standard pools that are being used by swimmers around the globe. Actually there's more like 2 main ones and a third pool only used in USA due to their love for imperial measurement system. Two main swimming pool lengths are:

  1. LCM (Long Course Meters) Swimming Pool (50 meters in length)
  2. SCM (Short Course Meters) Swimming Pool (25 meters in length)

Third pool type that is only used in USA is a 25 yard pool (22,86 meters).

LCM Pool is also called Olympic pool, and SCM usually is simply refered to as Short Course.

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