Loosen Up Your Body With These Swimming Warm Up Sets

Training & Technique
Written by: Harrison Howarth at 13 December '21 0
You are reading: Loosen Up Your Body With These Swimming Warm Up Sets

You should consider a proper warm-up as a vital piece of your swimming training. Whether before the main set of your training session, a vital heat at your race, or a big triathlon, your body needs to be prepared for athletic performance. Not only will this practice prepare your body for activity, but a good warm-up also has benefits like reducing injury potential, improving athletic performance, and preparing your mind for training.

After reading this article, you’ll understand why you should have a good warm-up routine and the benefits you’ll gain from a proper warm-up. After that, we will provide you with stretches you can use before swimming, as well as some good swimming warm-up sets to get your body loosened up and your blood flowing.

Why You Should Take the Time to Warm Up

Warming up before physical activity has many benefits that you don’t want to miss out on. Giving yourself enough time to prepare your body to train or compete can help you avoid injury and improve physical performance. Plus, the time spent warming up will allow you to mentally focus on your coming race or training.

Reduces Your Risk of Injury

The last thing you want as an athlete is to sustain an injury that disrupts your swimming program. Luckily, there are measures you can take to reduce your risk of injury. Along with proper recovery practices like stretching and rest, a good swim warm-up can go a long way toward keeping your body healthy and injury-free.

Warming up increases blood flow to your muscles, stretches your muscles, and loosens up your joints. These effects will reduce your risk of muscle-related injuries because they will be warmer and more limber before you begin intense physical activity.

Increases Your Athletic Performance

According to a WebMD, 79% of studies observed by a group of researchers found that warm-ups improve athletic performance. The article explains that warm-ups that are too short, performed improperly, are too tiring, or are carried out too far removed from the athletic event are ineffective.

So long as you perform a warm-up that is adequate for yourself as a swimmer, you will likely experience a boost in your athletic performance. Your muscles will be warm and full of oxygen-rich blood, allowing them to function optimally and improving their strength and endurance.

Allows Your Mind to Become Focused

For many of us, swimming acts as a break from regular life and is an almost therapeutic escape from our day-to-day concerns. However, sometimes it is hard to get your mind off specific circumstances and obligations from your daily life, but when you are training or racing, it is essential to focus on the task at hand, and the warm-up is a great time to get your mindset right.

While you stretch and go through your swimming warm-up sets, practice focusing on your mind-body connection. Think about the mechanics of your stroke, and get yourself in the mindset you need to be in to have a high-energy training session or race. After your warm-up, not only will your body be ready, but your mind will be primed as well.

Swimming Warm-Up Sets

There should be two main sections of your pre-swim routine. The first will be a dryland warm-up in the form of stretches performed before you enter the water. The second will be a series of swimming drills that combine to make a swimming warm-up set.

Below, we have included lists of stretches and swimming drills to try out before your next training session or competition.

The First Part of Warm-Up: Dryland Stretching

Swimming warm up sets: swimmer stretching her arms

You want your body temperature and the blood flow to your muscles to increase before you hop into a pool that is not so warm. Getting into the water too soon can cause your muscles to become cold and less limber, which at worst can cause injury and, at best, will limit your athletic performance.

A dryland warm-up is as important on the pool deck as it is if you are swimming or competing in a triathlon or another open-water event. Often, the water temperature can be somewhat cold in open-water conditions and, for triathletes, a proper warm-up on land is a must.

Here are some dryland stretches you can do:

  • Arm circles: Extend your arms out to your sides, so you make a “T” shape with your body. Start by making small circles in a forward motion. Gradually increase the size of the circles as you feel your shoulders start to loosen up. When your arm circles become large, begin slowly decreasing the circle size back to the small size you started at. Repeat the same process in the other direction. Make circles for 30 seconds to one minute before changing directions.
  • Arm swings: Set your feet about shoulder-width apart with your knees bent. Bend over forward with your arms hanging beneath your torso. Swing your arms left to right while you rotate your torso. You should feel the stretch on the front side of your shoulders. Perform 20 reps.
  • Swinging arm crosses: Standing straight up in the “T” position, keep your arms extended and bring them together so they cross over your chest. Open your arms back to the original position, then repeat. Alternate which arm crosses on top with each pass of the movement. Perform 20 reps.
  • Hip circles: Stand in an athletic position and make circles with your hips in both directions. Perform 10-20 hip circles per direction.
  • Squat to stands: In a standing position, bend down to touch your toes. Grab your toes with your hands. Keep a neutral spinal position as if you are performing a back squat or deadlift. Start to lower your hips so you come down into a squatting position. In the squat position, your elbows should be inside your knees, and you can use your elbows to drive your knees outward. Without removing your hands from your feet, return to the standing position. Perform this movement 10 times.
  • Back lunges: Start standing. Move one foot backward so you come into a lunge position. In this position, drive your hips forward so you feel the stretch through your groin, hip flexor, and quad on your forward leg. Stand back up and then repeat the process with the other leg. Perform this movement 5-10 times per leg.

The Second Part of Warm-Up: Swimming Sets

Underwater shot of two swimmers swimming side by side

Now that your body is warm and stretched out, you are ready to jump into the pool to complete the next part of your swimming warm-up set. The goal is to gradually increase your heart rate and thereby increase warmth and blood flow to your muscles.

If you are a beginner in the world of swimming and some of these sets seem challenging to accomplish, you can complete the swim sets below as your main set while you focus on developing perfect technique and work toward increasing your ability to swim greater yardage. Just don’t forget to stretch before you begin!

Swimming Warm-Up Set #1

  • 200 yards easy swim freestyle, stretching your shoulders out
  • 50 yards catch-up drill at 65%-75% of your race pace (skull with one hand in front and wait until your recovering arm catches up to your leading hand to take your next stroke)
  • 50 yards backstroke at 65%-75% of your race pace
  • 50 yards breaststroke at 65%-75% of your race pace
  • 50 yards flutter kick with or without a kickboard
  • 200 yards easy swim with paddles and a pull buoy

Swimming Warm-Up Set #2

  • 200 yards easy swim freestyle, stretching your shoulders out
  • 200 yards IM (individual medley) at 65%-75% effort
  • 4 x 25 yards flutter kick with or without a kickboard

Swimming Warm-Up Set #3

  • 200 yards easy swim freestyle, stretching your shoulders out
  • 4 x 100 yards with increasing effort (First 100 at 60% effort. Second 100 at 70% effort. Third 100 at 80% effort. Fourth at 90% effort. Rest for 20 seconds between each.)
  • 2 x 50 yards using kick of choice (flutter, breaststroke, backstroke flutter)

Swimming Warm-Up Set #4

  • 5-15 minutes of continuous easy swim with a gradual increase in effort as your body gets warm (alternate between freestyle swim, backstroke, breaststroke, butterfly, and kicking)

Time to Get Warm and Get Swimming!

Now that you know the benefits a proper warm-up can bring to your swimming program, it’s time to head to the pool and give some of the above swimming warm-up sets a try. After a good warm-up, you’ll be ready to perform your best and swim hard while keeping your muscles healthy. Remember to stretch before you dive into your set!

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Written by:

Harrison Howarth

Harrison is a freelance writer with a background in competitive aquatic sports. His love for water polo and swim, combined with his passion for writing and education, drives him to continue teaching and inspiring individuals to participate in aquatics.