How to Warm Up for Fast Swimming in Practice

Michael Butler
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Review your goals.

The first and most important thing to do is review your goals. Once you know where you are going, you will figure out what needs to get done to get there. Running an ultramarathon? Then you will need to do more road work. Need to be a better sprinter? Then you will need to work on technique and strength. Want to be a better all-around swimmer? Then you might benefit by doing a little bit of everything.

Warm-up the movement.

Most of the time, a swimmer will warm up by swimming, but sometimes, it is appropriate to go through other movements that are specific to the stroke.

Seasons change. Some days, it is too cold for swimming. In these conditions, a quicker and more efficient workout can be done by preparing the ankles and legs with swimming movements that are more dynamic.

My favorite warm-up for swimming is to focus on flexibility and breathing. I do this by feet first swimming. In feet first swimming, I just bring my feet to my face with my hands, relax and exhale. This helps loosen my muscles and stretches my limbs in the water.

The very first exercise I do in the water is not a stretch, but a breathing exercise. I breathe in underwater on my right for 2-3 seconds, exhale slowly, then do it on the left, and continue it for a set amount of time, 10 times or so.

This helps eliminate the shock of the cold water. For more information about the breathing technique click here.

Most swimmers have an obvious weak link that separates them from their swimming potential. Your coach probably knows what it is and, for basic workouts, doesn’t add in a training module to specifically smooth out this rough patch. However, sometimes you may have some extra time at practice or did not feel that day’s workout was adequate. What do you do?

You throw in a minute or two of training the low-hanging fruit for that day.

Shorter distances, higher intensity.

This is what we call "anticipatory sets." You start with the hardest set that will get you ready for the main set but that's short enough to not completely deplete you of energy for the main set. In this case, we're using it with fast swimming sets, but it works just as well with endurance sets.

It may seem counterproductive to use quicker sets to warm up for a main set that's supposed to be slower. But it's actually a great way to get your body to switch to a higher gear without wasting energy.

You start with the short, high-intensity set. It's a little uncomfortable and you may be tempted to stop early. But fight that urge.

You can also use this set to practice form. Say your race pace will be somewhere between your 25 and 50 splits, and you want to make sure you're getting your kick exactly right. This set gives you a chance to practice that kick at race pace.

Be ready physically to race.

Warm-ups can vary depending on the event and/or the specific strokes. However, when you’re preparing for a race, the main goal is to get your muscles and body temperature ready to perform. That’s why the traditional warm-up is to start with about 500 yards of continuous kicking and/or arm paddling.

After your initial warm-up, you can break up the rest into warm-up sets, gradually increasing in length. The goal of a warm-up set is to get the blood pumping and the muscles ready to race. You can gradually increase the intensity of your warm-up sets as these continuously increase in length, again building anticipation for the relay itself.

For instance, if your team’s first leg consists of a 30-yard sprint, your warm-up set might be three to five evenly spaced 25-yard pulls, which would be about one minute each interval. With your team’s first leg being only 30 yards, for its second leg, you’ll need to add 30 yards to each interval, and so on.

This is a great way to build up to your relay leg, which can be the most important since this is where you’ll want to hit your fastest time.

Prepares you mentally to perform.

In Summary

Warm up is the most important part of any swimming practice. It helps you prepare your muscles and joints. It also sets up the correct swimming body position. The warm-up also ensures you are ready for a long and difficult session, whether that’s for training or racing.

To properly prepare for your swimming session, you need to engage all of the muscle groups in your body and bring your heart rate up to a good level.

The main thing to remember about warming up is that it isn’t something that you spend 10 minutes on just before you start your workout. You need to be effectively warming up for at least a good 15 minutes, preferably more.

You can do this with a warm up set. Warm-up sets are an important part of your main workout. If your coach doesn’t require one, feel free to add it in your training.

A warm up set is a fairly easy set that gets your heart rate up and prepares you for the training you have in store.

Choose an activity that will get you completely warmed up. It can be anything you choose; you just need to do something that makes you feel warm. A warm up set is something you should do once you get to the pool.

Swimming Warm Up ? The Importance of Cardiovascular Exercise and Joint Mobility

A proper warm up for swimming is a set of easy, low-stress movements that prepare you for high-intensity exercise. These can include passive and active mobility exercises, joint stretches, a few minutes of light calisthenics, and a few minutes of jogging or biking. Together, these exercises loosen up your joints, increase your heart rate and blood flow, and engage your core muscles.

An important part of the warm up is mobilizing all of your joints through a range of motion. This helps you get the blood flowing in and around them so you can move through the water more comfortably when you’re swimming. It also helps you come into your stroke more easily.

Stretches help you loosen up tight muscles, making it easier to get into and out of your stroke. It also releases waste products from the muscles, improving your blood flow and overall performance.

Finally, it’s important to get your cardiovascular system up to speed with a few minutes of jogging, biking, or dynamic pool activities. This helps you warm up your muscles, get the blood flowing to your core, and move through the water more freely.

When you combine these movements with a light jog or a few quick laps out of the water, you’ll be ready to swim fast in no time.