Swimming Lap Counting MethodsThe Swim Coach: You might rely on the person running the workout to keep track of how far you have gone. If you are using a written swimming workout, and the coach sticks to it, and the coach can count (I'll be the first to admit that sometimes I do lose track of repeats... was that #8 or #9?), this way is easy.
Keep Track in Your Head: Rely on your own counting ability. Like the coach, you must be able to count and remember how many you have swum. You can tie this in with written workouts - see below.
Written Workout: If you do use a written workout, and you can keep track of how your repeats, as you finish each part of the workout you could draw a line through it with your fingernail. When you finish the workout, you know how much of the workout you have done, and by adding up the total distance of the workout, you know how far you have swum.
Estimate Based on Pace: This method uses your personal speed to figure out how far you went. For example: if you know it takes you about 2-minutes to swim 100-meters or yards at a given effort, and you look at your elapsed time and it is 4-minutes, you can be fairly sure you have swum 200-meters or yards. This one gets less accurate for long swims, like 500s, 800s, etc. As you swim longer repeats, unless you are very good at always swimming the same pace, the variance in pace can put you over or under the planned distance. I use this method a lot, but I peek at my watch every 50, 100, 150, or 200 meters or yards to get an idea of how I am doing with my pace and adjust my lap count accordingly; I will sometimes combine this method with the next one, the split button on my watch.
Wristwatch Split Button: Many watches with stopwatch functions have a split button, and have a display that shows how many splits have been taken. If your watch has a fairly large capacity for splits, you could push the split button every time you get to wall, or every other time, or every fourth time, etc. and use that split count to keep track of how far you have swum.
Move Swimming Gear: If you have a pile of gear at the end of your lane - kickboards, pull buoys, hand paddles, etc., you could move one of them from one side to the other (make the pile on the right, and move items to the left, for example) for each 50 or 100 yards or meters swum.
Move Lane Line Rings: This one won't work if the lane lines are not made of rings, or if the person in the next lane tries to use the same method with the same lane line. At the end of each 50 or 100 meters, slide one lane line ring along the cable, like moving a bead on an abacus. Count the rings you have moved and you know how far you have swum.
Scuba Writing Slate: Have you ever seen the writing slates used by Scuba divers? They have a pencil attached to them and they work well wet or dry. At the end of each 50 or 100 yards or meters, make a mark on the slate. Count those marks and you know how what you have swum.
Ring-type Lap Counter: You could get a lap counter that you wear on your finger. Each time you get to a wall, you click it and - voilà - you are counting laps.
Golf Stroke Counter: Some golfers use a device that you can click or slide to count each golf stroke. The same device will work for counting laps, too. Just make sure the one you sue is waterproof.
While some people are not worried about how far they swim, if you are like me and keep track of things like that, and you don't have a good way to count your laps or keep track of your swimming yardage yet, I hope one of these methods will help you.