The Top 4 Rules For Post Swim Meet Recovery

With several meets upon us in a short summer season, recovering quickly from long competitions is important to maintaining consistency in your training. When you finish that final race on Sunday, take your recovery seriously in order to re-focus your energy heading into another week of training. Let’s discuss some tips about post-meet recovery.

1. Warm Down

It is tempting to warm down less or not at all following your final race, but this can be detrimental to your muscle recovery later. Unless you are rushing off to catch a flight, take the time to warm down immediately after your race with the same focus as if you had another race to go. This helps flush lactate out of the muscle, where it would cause greater soreness and stiffness if it remained longer.

2. Re-fuel with a Nutritious Meal

Swimmers love the release at the end of a meet where they can eat whatever they want. While it is nice to have a treat upon finishing, remember that your body still needs proper fuel to replenish muscle glycogen stores that were depleted during your races. Opt for a healthy meal that includes a balance of protein, carbohydrates and healthy fat. Gunning for the fast food can make you feel even more tired the next day, so try to avoid this following your races. Drink plenty of water to rehydrate—especially if you are about to get on a plane. If you feel lightheaded or exceptionally lethargic, try including a beverage with electrolytes to supplement your hydration. Swimmers may sweat out an excess of salt that can be replaced with these drinks.

3. Go to Bed Early

With travel this can be a difficult task, but try to hit the sack early. Your body needs sufficient sleep to recover from multiple days of high intensity exertion. This will set you up nicely for the rest of the week, and keep your immune system strong. If you get home late from traveling, set aside time for a nap the following day if it is possible.

4. Loosen Swim the Next Day

If you do not have a scheduled practice the day after a meet, jump in the pool for a brief (30 minutes or less) loosen swim. This is meant to further lengthen your muscles and reduce stiffness from racing and traveling. You do not need to do any speed work or high intensity sets. Just swim continuously and steadily for a short while to accelerate the muscle repair process.

With these tips in mind, you’ll be on your way to a better week of practices after every meet and a more consistent summer of training overall!       New Call-to-action

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BridgeAthletic Logo 3BridgeAthletic works with elite professional, collegiate, and club swimming programs to provide a turnkey solution for dryland training. Led by Nick Folker, the top swimming strength and conditioning coach in the world, our team builds stroke-specific, custom-optimized dryland programs for each of our clients. The individualized workouts are delivered directly to athletes via our state of the art technology platform and mobile applications. Check Nick and BridgeAthletic out as recently featured in SwimSwam.

About Nick Folker

Nick FolkerNick Folker is the Co-Founder and Director of Elite Performance at BridgeAthletic. Nick’s roster of athletes includes 35 Olympians winning 22 Olympic Medals, 7 team NCAA Championships and over 170 individual and relay NCAA championships. Megan Fischer-Colbrie works as the Sports Science Editor at BridgeAthletic. Megan was a four-year varsity swimmer at Stanford, where she recently graduated with a degree in Human Biology. The Championship Series by BridgeAthletic is designed to empower athletes with tips from the pros that will help them reach peak performance come race day. We will be covering competition-focused topics such as nutrition, recovery, stretching, and mental preparation.

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Howard Nicodemus
6 months ago

Three days between prelims and finals, do we swim a light practice or just a continuous swim to loosen up?

Reply to  Howard Nicodemus
6 months ago

Hey Howard, I think it partially depends on your goals at the meet. If it’s a “full training, we wanna see where we’re at but don’t want to lose any volume” meet (though I don’t think I’d choose a 3 day meet for that purpose), then sure do a practice between.

Otherwise, I think you would just have a meet warmup and cool down procedure and that’s more than enough for a three day meet. I don’t see a big need to supplement warmup and cool down with an intra-session practice.

9 years ago

The 2014 Swim Pink A+ Invitational last weekend at The University of Iowa sponsored by Finis failed to realize that when the meet concluded on Sunday night the entire town of Iowa City Iowa shuts down at 10pm. No one leaving could find anywhere for their swimmers and themselves to eat.. Recovery was dicey unless you had packed extra recovery drinks in your swim bags. Enough a least to get you to a 24hr gas station, that in Iowa specializes in those giant fat-filled hotdogs that slowly sizzle in that famous fat on the all night griddles!! Is anyone still throwing up?? Recommendations for next Swim Pink is NO PRELIM-FINALS on Sunday!!!

Reply to  Mary Elizabeth Martin
9 years ago

Have you tried sharing your experience with the meet host, without all the excessive punctuation, of course? Venting in a thread about post meet recovery doesn’t solve the issue and one must always plan for the worst. I am assuming that someone in your party could get away between prelims and finals to secure said recovery foods? Voice your opinion to the meet host, but remember to be proactive.

Reply to  coacherik
9 years ago

I completely agree with this comment! I was just about to write something similar myself.

9 years ago

Yes. Warming down is important, but not because lactic acidosis makes your sore. This is a misconception that has no established cause and effect regarding soreness.

Reply to  Tad Sayce
9 years ago

Then why is it important?

Reply to  mballenger
9 years ago

Aside from psychological effects, the only reason I can see is to prevent venous pooling in the legs.

Still, I loved warming down at meets. It just felt good, after busting my butt during a race, to just hop in and swim as slowly as I could for a while. Unless I had a quick event turnaround, I’d do a bare minimum of 300 yards, usually pushing 500.

I’d replace the warm down entry on this list with warm up, which actually has been shown to reduce post exercise soreness.

9 years ago

ugh… warm down was the WORST!!! I had to do a good 30-40 min warm down, depending on the race, to really flush out my system and feel great for my next race. but my last race before i “retired” I did no warm down, just got in the hot shower and called it a career lol