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How far should a swimmer warm up?


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,

There is no set answer for your question as the length and content of a warm up for a swimmer will vary depending on many factors.

The length and content of a warm up for swimmers aged 8 to 14 years will be very dependent on:

  • how many sessions a swimmer does each week
  • the content (including distance covered) in each of these sessions
  • how long they have for warm up prior to the meet
  • how much time they have between their warm up and their first race, and
  • whether they are racing in sprint events (50s) or distance events (400s+)

I have listed below two sample warm ups, but they are only one of hundreds of different warm ups that could be done.

  1. For 8 and 9 year olds swimming 2 times a week I may give them 200m easy swim, 4×50 with 2 of them build and 2 as 25m hard, 25 m easy. Then we would do some dive sprints and maybe some turns and finishes, followed by 100m easy.
  2. Older age group swimmers, say 13 to 14 years could do anywhere between 800m and 2km as part of their warm up depending on the factors above.  This would include a 400 to 800m warm up swim with drills and working on technique.  They could then do something like 8 x 50 as 3 build, 3 as 25 hard, 25 easy and 2 at 200m pace, if they were warming up for a 200m swim.  This would be followed by more technique or drill work, and starts, turns and finish practice in the main competition pool and an easy swim off.

Having said all that, a good coach will prepare a swimmer not only for the events they have that day but also begin educating them on the type of warm up and swim down they will have to do as they get older.  Coaches are very aware of what the swimmers have done in training and it is very rare that a coach would give a swimmer a longer warm up than they believe they are capable of doing.

I have had similar feedback at times (complaints of fatigue after a warm up) however once a swimmer completes the same warm up a couple of times it becomes second nature to them.


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