Meet Warm Ups

Seven Componets of a Meet Warm Up:

  1. Get in and warm-up your muscles and circulatory system (200-?) Swim 10 x 100 as a warm-up exercise one day to see how many 100s it takes for you to be able to hold that comfortable pace/cruise speed where your body is ready to start swimming at race speed.
  2. What strokes are you swimming? This can be a continuation of #1 as you start to warm-up other strokes than Freestyle with drills/sculls/kicks. In a multi-day or multi-session meet you may not need to warm up every stroke when you get in the pool for the first warm up of the day. You may be able to warm-up other strokes as part of your cool-down swims or later in the day.
  3. Get to know the pool. Every pool is different: reflection on the water, depth of the water, backstroke flags may seem slightly different, ceiling heights or orientation for swimming backstroke, bulkheads for turns, bubblers for aeration on the bottom of the pool. Swim the strokes you will be swimming (even in the lanes you will be swimming if possible!) to practice in that different environment. Make sure you do at least part of your warm-up in the main pool and not all of it in the cool-down pool.
  4. Swim at Race Pace. Swimming at race pace is different than swimming at practice and you need to try to get there in warm-ups. Do descending 50s, 75s, or 100s to get as close as possible so that your body is prepared for the adrenaline and speed of the race.
  5. Turn at Race Pace. The timing of your turns is different at race pace so make sure to practice those as well, especially the 1st turn (more in #6!).
  6. Go off the Blocks and practice your start and 1st turn! Even though the height of starting blocks is standard they all feel different so you need to practice at every meet. The fastest 25 you will do the whole race is the one off the blocks so it’s a good idea to do a couple of ‘Turn & Drops’ as well. It’s a good idea to have a friend be there to help you. Remember – DO NOT push off and go the other way. Have your friend or a coach hold back the next person to give you a few seconds to do your turn, plant your feet and move over, and then get out since you are in a ONE DIRECTION ONLY LANE! This will really help you get your timing for your first turn into the wall at race pace.
  7. Is there anything specific that you need/like to do? Extra kicking to warm-up your legs? Don’t forget hydration is an important part of meet warm-up as well so keep water or your drink of choice available before, during, and after.
  8. Equipment is not allowed during meet warm-ups and in fact according to USMS rules can get you disqualified from the entire meet! If you see other people using equipment just be aware it is not okay to grab yours out of your equipment bag  – just play it safe and leave it at home.

Right before your Race – Several heats or the event before your race you may find you like to get back into the water to do some speed work or fast 25s to ‘reprime’ your body for your race. Sprinters especially make sure to get your legs warmed up and ready to kick. Make sure to keep an eye on the scoreboard or listen to the announcer so you don’t miss your race!

Secondary Warm-Up for Later Events – If you are swimming events later in the day there may not be a need for a warm-up as long as the first. If they are close together you can use your cool-down swim as part of the preparation for the second race, using a mix of kick/drill/long to recover and swim the next stroke. Your secondary warm-up may be as little as 200-500 yards or meters depending on the length of time between events.

Sample Warm-Ups (adjust yardage as needed!)

400 Swim (Choice 4 x 100, 75 Free 25 Kick on back, 75 Free 25 Stroke Drill, or Straight 400 Swim)
4 x 75 Kick/Drill/Build
4 x 100 Descend to RP
(Mix it up ex 100 Free, 75 Fr 50 Br
50 Fr 50 Br, 100 Breast)
2 Starts off Blocks (25 F! 25 EZ swim back)

Total: 1200y


400-600 Free (Choice Straight Swim, Descend 100s, 75 Free 25 Kick on Back, 75 Free 25 Stroke Drill)
6 x 50 (25 Drill/25 Swim Odd Free Even Stroke
4 x 75 Build to Race Pace 1&2 Free 3&4 Stroke
2 Starts off Blocks (25 F! 25 EZ swim back)

Total: 1100-1300y


Distance Free Warm-up
300 Swim (Choice Straight Swim, Descend 100s, 75 Free 25 Kick on Back)
200 (Stroke Count – Drop a Stroke every 50)
4 x 75 (25 Drill/25 Overkick/25 Build)
4 x 100 (1&2 Descend 3&4 Hold Goal Pacing)
2 Starts off Blocks (25 F! 25 EZ swim back)

Total: 1300y


Distance Free Warm-up
4 x 100 Descend 1-4
4 x 50 (25 Drill 25 Build)
4 x 75 (25 People Paddle 25 Overkick 25 Build to RP)
8 x 50 or 4 x 100 Goal Pacing
2 Starts off Blocks (25 F! 25 EZ swim back)



400 Free
400 IM (25 Kick 25 Dr 25 Dr 25 Swim)
4 x 100 Free Descend 1-4
6 x 50 IM Switching Fl/Bk, Bk/Br, Br/Fr 2x thru
8 x 50 IM Order 25 F! 25 EZ
6 x 25 Free 1)F! 2&3)EZ 4)F! 5) Build 6)F!
100 F!
2 Starts off Blocks (25 F! 25 EZ swim back)

Total: 2050y


400 Free
600 (200 IM Kick, 200 IM Drill, 200 IM Swim)
300 LONG (200 Free, 100 Stroke)
8 x 50 IM Order Build Each 50
4 x 50 25 F! 25 EZ
100 F!
2 Starts off Blocks (25 F! 25 EZ swim back)



400-600 (75 Free 25 Kick on Back or Scull)
300 Kick (75 Build 25 F! 50 Build 50 F! 25 Bld 75F!)
100 Stroke Count
4 x 75 Build each 75 and Descend 1-4



400 Swim
6 x 75 (25 Scull 25 Drill 25 O.Kick) Odd Free Even Stroke
2 x 75 Build Stroke to Race Pace and Descend 1-2
3 x 100 Build Free to Race Pace and Descend 1-3
2 Starts off Blocks (25 F! 25 EZ Swim back)