Why I put pocket change at the end of my lap lane

Swimming is a total-body workout, a low-impact alternative to running and you can torch 700 calories per hour if you’re moving through the water at a fast pace. The problem taunting recreational swimmers, though? Keeping track of just how many laps you’ve logged.

That’s why I’ve started emptying out my pocket change next to my water bottle on the pool ledge. Looks crazy, right? But I push a coin to the side each time I finish a lap. That way, I know that when all of my coins have made it to the other side, I can hop out of the lap lane, calculate my time and sink into the hot tub for a post-workout reward!


I just wish I had remembered this trick earlier.

As a former lifeguard, we had to swim 10 laps before each shift in a certain amount of time, and another guard was always keeping time. For the most part, I’d hop in the pool and swim for a certain amount of time kind of aimlessly.

But when I started training for a triathlon and was working out in the pool on my own, I could never remember how many laps I’d swam. Had I done 50 or 11? Really, I’d zone out—which is the type of zen we want to accomplish during a workout, right?

Still, I needed to keep count…somehow.

I read online in a swimmer’s forum that you should say over and over, “this is lap one, this is lap one, this is lap one” and so on. But in my head I found myself repeating “this is no fun, this is no fun…”

Then I remembered that, when I was kid, my grandma would take me to the pool. I’d flop around on pool noodles and do cannon balls while she gracefully swam laps in her swim cap. Another woman at the pool always had change at the end of her lap lane, and she’d push a penny to the other side every time she finished a lap.

At the time, I thought it would be a lot more fun to throw the pennies to the bottom of the pool. But it dawned on me that she was using them to count her laps, and her old-school trick comes in handy for me now.

The only downside? Using the pocket change method will add a second or so to each lap, since you can’t do a flipturn and move the money at the same time—unless, of course, you’re really coordinated. Just shave the time off at the end.