Travel Meets: 5 Things to Do on Arrival

From the moment you land in a new place for a meet, the rest of your day should follow the same pattern every time you travel—that is to say, what you do on arrival day must become second nature to you.

ONE – Hydrate and have a snack

You’ll need to drink more water than on a typical day to combat the dehydration from flying. Even if you don’t feel thirsty, drink water after getting off the plane.

TWO – Foam Roll and Stretch

When you arrive at the pool for a loosen swim, make sure to foam roll and move through dynamic stretching as a team before you jump in. This will increase blood circulation that was severely hindered during the long period of sitting on the plane. Dynamic stretching, as discussed in Nick’s Video Series on Pre-Competition Warmup, involves repetitive movements such as jumping jacks, bodyweight squats, rotational movements, or swinging one’s arms and legs. These actions will warm up stiff muscles and get the blood flowing again before you jump in the pool, and potentially save you from swimming extra yardage to loosen up.

THREE – Light loosen swim

Take this warm up as a relaxing way to wind down from a day of travel. It is purely to get the travel kinks out and get a feel for the water. If you aren’t racing until the next day or two, you do not need to do any pace, starts, or speed work. At most, practice a couple turns to get used to the flags and the T at the bottom of the pool. This swim is about resetting for tomorrow, and is not the time to squeeze in fast swimming—there will be plenty of that in the coming days!

FOUR – Dinner Time 

Eat a healthy, substantial meal for dinner. This also means no sodas or sugary drinks are allowed at night. The caffeine and sugar in both soda and energy drinks can inhibit your ability to fall asleep at night. Just because you are at a competition does not mean you need to begin drinking sports drinks. Opt for water at night to continue rehydrating from your travel.

FIVE – Go to Sleep Early

It may take you awhile to fall asleep in a new place so allow extra time for this. With changes in time zones, make sure you are aware of the new time and when you need to wake up. It may not feel late, but forcing yourself to adjust to a new time zone as soon as possible will help you feel more rested come race day.

Practice these habits every time you travel and they will soon become automatic. The goal is to have a smooth and relaxing travel day with minimal adverse effects on your body. Take good care of yourself; with every decision, choose the option that will best prepare you for the meet ahead!


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Nick FolkerNick Folker is the Co-Founder and Director of Elite Performance at BridgeAthletic. Nick’s athletes have won 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.

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2 Comments on "Travel Meets: 5 Things to Do on Arrival"

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Durjay Bhattacharia

Yea, swimmers do follow this

Visit the pool the day before if you arrive early. It’s a good idea if you haven’t been there before or haven’t visited recently. Visualize what you’ll be doing the next day to prepare for your races. Many meets offer a warm up the day before, so take advantage of getting familiar with the pool, walls, blocks, and flags.