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The best warm up for a Swim Meet


Good Day Gary,

Some of our swimmers ages 8yrs to 14yrs complain of fatigue, when its race time if the coach does a long warm up before the meet starts. What would you say would be basic or best warm up, prior to the start of the meet and the duration.



Hi Robert,

The length of the warm up prior to a meet will depend on many different variables and there in no exact science to it.  Variables include:

  • where a swimmer is in their training cycle,
  • the age of the swimmers,
  • how much sleep has swimmer has had,
  • how often they practice,
  • the fitness of the swimmers,
  • the temperature of the water,
  • the time of day, and
  • the event they are warming up for.

With young swimmers, I have experienced on many occasions parents asking the same question that you have.  Often these questions relate to why their children have to swim so far in warm up.

For young swimmers a warm up of a total distance of 400 to 800m is not unusual. For 10-12 year olds upwards it may be further.  Having said that, its what they do in the warm up that is important.

We must remember that many of these swimmers are swimming anywhere between 1.5km and 5km in a training session, so warm-ups of this length do not affect them.

Warm ups in swimming are about rehearsing what you want to do in a race, including swimming at different paces using correct technique and practicing starts and turns in the pool they will be racing in.

Doing a warm up will increase a swimmer’s heart rate, their core body temperature and blood flow to their muscles.

Some example warm up sets include:

1. 200m easy swim, 4 x 50m build each 50m, 100 working on stroke drills, 2 x 50m as 25 fast, 25 easy, 100 easy swim with good technique, 2-4 starts with sprinting to 15m and 2-4 fast turns.

2. 400m easy swim working your turns, 8 x 50 with 4 as build each 50 and 4 as 25 fast 25 easy, 200 stroke drills, 4 dive 25’s fast, 200m easy.

It is a fine balancing act between educating young swimmers on the correct type of warm up to do for the long term and ensuring they swim fast on the day.

If a swimmer is feeling fatigued after doing a warm up, they should speak to their coach to ask for guidance.  This will help both parties in the long term.

Hope that helps Robert.



The Swimming Expert

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