How to warm-up before a swimming competition?

We have previously discussed the basic rules of a good and effective warm-up before an everyday swimming workout but we know that many of you are competing regularly as part of the Masters organization or a school team etc. That’s why we have decided to look at some warm-up techniques and rules that are applicable before a swim meet when speed is going to be the main focus. We also want to give you a few good reasons to always remember about warming up your body before a race.

Why should you warm-up before swimming

1. Feel the heat – when your body is warmer – your muscles and joints become more flexible and your movement rage is improved

2. Feel the water – warm-up improves our nerve system activity and helps you find what coaches call ‚the feel for the water’

3. Fill your lungs – proper warm-up lets you hold your breath in an efficient and effortless way

4. Fill your body with oxygen – warming up will help your organism to improve oxygen delivery to your muscles – the source of your power!

5. Every split second counts – you do not want to be at any disadvantage compared to other swimmers who took time to warm-up – it might be the difference between the winners and the rest of the pack!

Physical warm-up

Swimming main warm-up
– finish it 30 minutes before the race at the latest
– slowly build the intensity at an average of 55-65% of your max intensity

Pre-race warm-up
– do it as close to the start of the race as possible (5 minutes before is perfect)
– include a 50 meter higher intensity set at around 75% of your max intensity

Dryland warm-up
This is not ideal and you should always opt for the in-water warm-up but as we all know it is not always possible. This is when a dryland warm-up session has to prepare you for the race and to do it it has to consist of two parts – general and dynamic warm-ups

General dryland warm-up should last for around 10 minutes and include exercises that work your big muscles groups – light jogging, stationary bicycle or a jump rope are good examples

Dynamic dryland warm-up is supposed to improve flexibility while keeping your body warm. You should target specific muscle groups used in swimming and should be performed in 15-30 second sets. The whole warm-up should take 5 to 10 minutes.

Mental pre-race preparation for swimmers

This process is different for every athlete but should consist of those elements:
– achieve a mental state that correlates with success
– achieve greater self-confidence
– control your mental energy levels – not too flat and not too amped
– hyper-focused on the key technical elements of the swim ahead
– stay comfortable thanks to a pre-race routine


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