Pre-race warm up
The Short Warm Up
Sometimes when you go to a meet you only get a few minutes to warm up. If there are six different teams all wanting to warm up in just six lanes it can get a bit crazy! Sometimes the organisers will separate out the boys and the girls or give different time slots to different age groups so you can end up with as little as ten minutes to get warmed up. It’s nowhere near enough but if it’s all you can get then you need to make the most of it.
Make sure you keep moving for the whole time that you have allocated to you. Try not to get into a habit of stopping during each length to practice turns because it’s much more important to get your muscles warmed up than practice turns. If you’ve worked your turns hard enough in training you should be ready to race and if you keep moving in the warm up you’ll get to do more turns than you would if you keep stopping and starting.
In addition to your short time in the pool you should get yourself warmed up by stretching and generally moving around. Some people take a skipping rope to the pool and others will go for a brisk walk or gentle run outside before they get into the water. Stretching after you swim is actually more effective that stretching before you swim.
The Championship Warm Up
If you go to a big event you might get up to an hour in the water to warm up. Work out what is the best distance for you to do in the warm up to feel ready to race. For many top swimmers this is around 1200 to 2000meters. Don’t wear yourself out, but a combination of gentle swimming, drills, harder efforts and sprints tends to work for most people. You really need to develop two types of warm up that become your routine, one for league and local meets and the other for championship events.
After your race you should really swim down until your heart rate gets to below100 beats per minute, but you can’t do this at every meet as there isn’t always a swim down pool. Get into the habit of stretching, walking or skipping after your race to get some of the lactate acid out of your muscles. Don’t just sit down after your race because you will just stiffen up and find your next race even harder!