What does warm up mean in swimming?

Warm up = easy swim. Swimming warm up is a practice of gentle cardio exercise that usually incorporates stretches.

Swimming warm up is a low intensity, short exercise that is usually done before a swim meet or any regular swim practice. Swim warm up usually consists of dryland stretches and lower intensity swimming, but may include other types of exercise such as short sprints (especially before a swim meet).

Swimming warm up, before swim practice or before a swim meet have all the same goals in common:

Swimming Warm Up is needed to:
1) Get that blood flowing
1) Raise temperature of your muscles
2) Raise temperature of your body and core
3) Activate your nervous system, lungs and increase oxygen delivery

Why swimmers need to warm up?

Amongst many other factors... Main reason for a proper swimming warm up can minimize the risk of an injury. Swimming training or competition requires quite a lot from any swimmers body, so warming up before bigger challenges is a must.

Swim warming up helps swimmers to be better prepared for any anaerobic or aerobic exercises. This is because after a good warm up:

  • Your muscles are more flexible
  • Your body temperature is increased
  • Your nervous system is activated
  • Your oxygen intake is increased
  • You are mentally more prepared for the challenge

These are just a few core benefits that makes proper warm up necessary.

What swimmers do to warm up?

Most swimmers will start their warm up before they jump in to the water. They will start with "warm up stretches" which, in most cases are more "rotation exercises" than actual stretches. That's why before any swim meet or professional swim practice, you will see swimmers spinning their arms and legs.

Dryland Warm Up Stretches

Dryland warm up stretches (once again, most of them are not even stretches) aim to warm up your joints to minimize injury risks. It's also a great way to wake up and increase your body temperature before jumping into that cold water.

Such stretches warm up is also called dynamic dryland warm up.

After dryland warm up - swimmers are ready to jump into the water and do second part of the warm up there.

Warm Up In The Water

Warming up inside the pool is as important as the pre-warmup that you swimmers do before even jumping in the pool. This means swimmer is swimming for 5-20 minutes and not raising their swim speed or intensity above 40-60% to your max speed or heath rate.

In other words: Swimming Warm Up = Easy Swim

It is also important to note that during your warm up it's important to change styles, swimmers also like to do some kick or arm practices. Nothing is off limits here, as long as you don't stop and swim for 10-20 minutes, you should be warmed up after this is done.

Difference between Swim Meet and Swim Practice Warm Ups?

In short - meet warm ups are more like a tiny swim practice before the competition, while pre-practice warm ups just prepare you for what's next in your practice.

Warm Up Before Swim Meet

Warming up before a swim meet event is usually much longer in time than a swim practice warm up. This is because your pre-race warm up also includes small sprints and other event-specific exercises. This is because your warm up before swim meet is more like a tiny individual training session where you prepare yourself for the swim race you will have later on.

Warm Up Before Swim Practice

Many coaches can have their suggested warm-up sets or simply let their swimmers decide to let them choose their warm up on their own. A pre-practice warm up in the water can be usually roughly 10-20 minutes or around a 1000m. Keep in mind that these numbers are crooked, swimmers come in all ages, sizes, experience levels - the warm up should match the practise itself.

Think of a warm up before practice to be somewhere 20% of your practice. So if you are planning to swim 2000m, consider your warmup to be 400 meters.

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