A swim coach is helping his swimmers stretch before practice.

Dynamic Warm-Up Exercises for Swimmers

Dynamic Warm-Up Exercises for Swimmers

Most people would be surprised, but a large part of conditioning for swimmers happens outside of the pool. What most swimmers and coaches call ‘dry land’ is a great way to start swim practice or use as a warm-up before swim lessons. 

A good warm-up routine has many benefits. When your swimmers arrive at the pool, creating a warm-up routine that is familiar helps them settle into the environment. Not only that, warming up can increase performance and diminish the risk of injury or even fatigue.

Studies show that the best warm-up routines for swimmers include exercises known as ‘dynamic exercises’. These include 5-10 minutes of gentle cardio exercises, incorporating dynamic stretches. The best warm-up exercises for swimmers increase blood flow to muscles and raise the body temperature. 

What are the benefits of dynamic warm-ups for swimmers?

Dynamic warm-ups have four main benefits. Some believe that a warm-up is just a precaution against injury, but when incorporating a dynamic warm-up, there are four benefits that extend beyond safety. 

1. Prepare swimmers for additional workload

Warming up increased blood flow to working muscles and delivers additional oxygen and nutrients quicker. This will help swimmers’ bodies get used to the exertion and prevent loss of breath quicker. 

2. Allows a longer, more challenging workout

As a swim instructor, knowing the capabilities of your swimmers is important. To help avoid a rapid change in blood pressure, warming up with your swimmers is a great way to prepare the heart for gradually increased activity. 

3. Loosens up joints

Here comes the injury prevention benefit. When warming up, your joints and muscles will begin to get used to moving in different directions again. With this, you will have a greater range of motion and it will help prevent injuries. 

4. Improves coordination and reaction time

Warming up primes nerve-to-muscle pathways to be ready for swimming. When these are ready, your performance will improve. 

What is the best way to warm up before swimming? 

Your warm-up time is dependent on the lesson or practice that will follow. If you are planning on including lots of fast twitch muscle exercises like sprints or kicking, your warm-up should be longer. Include some dry land warm-up time and ease into the swimming portion with slower swimming first. 

Make sure that your dry land warm-up is away from slippery surfaces and that your swimmers are wearing the proper footwear. Tennis shoes are usually your best bet for a pre-swim warm-up. 

What are some ideas for swimming warm-up exercises? 

Your warm-up time is going to be dependent on the level and capabilities of your swimmers. Here are some ideas for all levels. 

Jumping Jacks

Most people are familiar with jumping jacks. Start standing and jump your legs out and your arms up at the same time to make an X with your body. Get your students to count with you to make sure everyone is participating. 

Butt Kicks

Butt kicks can be performed in motion or static. If you prefer in motion, get your swimmers to run from one point to another kicking their feet up to their butt. This helps increase the range of motion. If you are limited on space, have swimmers jog in one spot performing the move.

Jump Rope

If you have jump ropes available, have your swimmers spread out and work on their jump roping skills. This works to increase coordination and get heart rates up. 

Arm Circles

Just like when you do freestyle and backstroke, have your swimmers stand and circle their arms. This is a perfect warm-up move for swimmers to get used to the motion and stretch out their muscles. 

High Knees

Just like butt kicks, high knees can be performed in motion or static. Have your swimmers run from one point to another raising their knees up higher than they naturally do when running. If static and your swimmers are struggling with getting their knees high enough, have them raise their arms out in front of them and focus on hitting their hands with their knees. 

A Game

Whether you have too many students and a small group warm-up isn’t going to work or your swimmers are having a hard time listening to instruction, a game is a great way to warm up and encourage participation. Some game ideas include:

When it comes down to it, the most important thing is that you include a warm-up in your swim lessons or practice. You can adjust it depending on your setting, the students and their abilities. 

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