How to Warm Up Before Your Swimming Lesson


We’re all guilty of skipping the odd pre-sport stretch – whether you’re heading out for a run, playing a team game, or hitting the gym. When it comes to swimming, warm-up stretches are often even more neglected – elite swimmers in training aside, most of us never think to undertake any form of stretching before entering the water.

The truth is – just like any sport – swimming can be strenuous on certain parts of the body, for example the shoulders, and therefore it’s important to make sure you understand how to warm up properly. It all comes down to developing good habits; you may get away without stretching pre-swimming while you’re younger, but eventually your lack of discipline may just come back to bite you! Therefore, developing good habits in children is important.

What sort of warm-up exercises are suitable for swimmers?

The idea of a warm-up is just that – to raise your body and muscle temperature for the activity that lies ahead, thereby reducing the risk of injury. It also helps the body to deliver oxygen to the muscles, preparing them for the work ahead – and over time, stretching helps to boost flexibility. While you might not think of flexibility as a key attribute for swimmers, in order to achieve maximum power and speed in the water, one requires very good range of motion – which of course all comes back to being flexible.

Stretches for swimmers should begin with the shoulders, since they take the brunt of the workload when in the water. Beginning one arm at time, a good stretch is to rotate your shoulder and arm forward in a circular motion, much like you would if you were swimming freestyle stroke; focus on smooth, controlled rotations. This can be repeated rotating your shoulder and arm backwards, much like backstroke – and then both the forward and backward rotations can be repeated using both arms at once (picture this looking a little more like butterfly stroke). Lateral arm raises, and also alternating arm raises moving one arm forwards and one arm backwards, are further ways to warm up this part of the body in preparation for swimming.

Back and hamstring stretches, such as folding forward to touch your toes, are also effective; remember, stretches should be held for 10-30 seconds and never push too hard initially, as you could risk injury. Walking in the water can also provide a gentle whole-body warm-up prior to swimming. Depending on the type and intensity of swimming you’re planning to undertake, a sufficient warm-up may take anywhere between three and ten minutes.

Learn from the experts

Here at Aquastar Swim Schools, we offer swimming lessons for beginners through to advanced and squad (competition) level swimmers. Warm-up routines form part of each lesson, in particular once swimmers reach squad level and are performing faster, more intense workouts across a variety of strokes. Our expert swim teachers know the importance of building a proper warm-up routine into a training session, so you can rest assured children are learning these important skills – alongside actual swim tuition – from an early age, setting them up for the future.

For more information regarding Aquastar Swim Schools’ swimming program, click here.

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