Pre-Meet Swimming Warm-up Tips

Learn how to prepare for a swim meet both mentally and physically with the help of this Pro Tips guide.

What to do before a swim meet is very personalized and will vary from one person to the next. A good swim meet warm-up set will include both mental and physical preparation.

“Many swimmers have their own unique routines, traditions and superstitions to get them mentally prepared before a race,” says Division I swimming and diving coach Marc Christian.


The mental game is half the battle. Before the day of the event, you should talk to your coach about their expectations for you and what you need to do. But there are a handful of things you can do to relax your mind and help you feel more comfortable on the day of the big meet:

  • Arrive Early: Being prompt can give you time to become familiar with your environment. You can learn the location of everything from the locker rooms to the starting blocks and also get an idea of which lane is yours and how much space there will be for dryland warmups.
  • Know Your Schedule: Make sure to study the timelines to know when each event will take place and which events you’re competing in. Knowing how much time you have between events will help you plan a strategy for refueling and preparing for each event.
  • Visualize: Visualization is the process of imagining yourself swimming your race and achieving your goals. Swimmers at the highest levels of competition employ visualization techniques to prepare themselves mentally. Try picturing a specific outcome, as well as dealing calmly with setbacks. The more details you picture, the better.


Get your body ready for your events with a combination of dryland warmups and water warmups. Pre-meet warmups differ from pre-practice warmups since you may have less time in the pool.

  • Swim Laps: You may or may not have the opportunity to swim a couple laps ahead of time. If you do get some time in the water, focus on getting your heart rate up with exercises like kicking, descending efforts and short sprints.
  • On-Deck Exercises: For the times when you may not have access to a lane, you can also do on-deck warm-up exercises before swimming to get your heart rate elevated and ready for race time.

Finding the perfect pre-meet warmup may take time and will vary from swimmer to swimmer. Discovering what works for you can help you perform your best at the big event.