Swimming 101: The story behind what you see at an Olympic pool

There's much more to an Olympic pool than meets the eye. Go poolside with Olympian Kelly VanderBeek to see what the swimmers see as they compete on their quest for Rio.

Ropes like paddle boats, flying V, and other swimming facts you should know

An interactive photo of the Pan Am Aquatics Centre with poolside videos that offer a behind-the-scenes look at what the swimmers experience while competing. (ThingLink/Tanya Casole-Gouveia )

With Canada's top swimmers going after Olympic spots this week in Toronto, we're giving fans an inside look at what the competitors deal with at top-level swim meets.

Hover over the icons to go poolside with Kelly VanderBeek and see exactly what the Canadian swimmers can expect in Rio.

Nothing happens until he says so

Lockie Lister ensures the swimmers get to the right lanes and no one goes until he gives the signal.

Breaking down the blocks

Former national team swimmer Callum Ng knows the starting blocks well. The blocks are built for propulsion, he explains. Similar to a track start, you want to set yourself up for the best forward momentum possible. 

Lane ropes of paddle boats?

Ever wonder why those lane ropes look like big paddle boats? They actually stop the water from clearing into the other lane so you're not splashing — and blinding — the racer next to you.

Not-so-ready room

The ready room is where the swimmers wait to hear their names called before stepping onto the deck to compete on the big stage.

More than just decorations

The five-metre backstroke flags are there to give the swimmers a heads up that the wall is approaching and get their stroke count down.

Safety first

Every pool needs a lifeguard.

A pool of Olympic proportion 

An Olympic-size pool is 50 metres long but FINA also has 25-metre pools, which actually makes the swimmers faster because of their momentum from pushing off the wall.

15-metre rope

The white rope located at the 15-metre mark drops into the water letting the swimmers know that there's been a false start. It's also the furthest point swimmers can stay beneath the surface. 

Leading the flying V

Lane 4 has to be earned. In the finals it goes to the fastest racer from the heats. The assumption is that whomever is in lane four is leading the pack and setting the pace.


Don't forget to brush up on your swimmers jargon before heading to your next race!

Follow @CBCOlympics for all your #RioTrials and Olympic news


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