I’m Tired. Do I Still Have To Warmup?


I’m sure that all coaches have been asked that question near the end of a long meet.  This last weekend I had a great opportunity to let the kids answer that question for themselves.

We were at our ‘big’ meet for the first 3 months of the year – a 2½ day meet starting on Friday afternoon, and with finals on Saturday and Sunday evenings. Overall, the meet was a  little slower than expected, and we were a little faster than expected, so we had an unusually high number of Saturday evening final swims. We’re a young team, so many of these kids made their first finals. The pool was also 45 minutes from home, so naturally when early Sunday morning warmups rolled around, the swimmers were tired. And I had quite a few ask me, “I’m tired. Do I still have to warmup?” Somehow, being fatigued was considered a potential substitute for being warmed up.

Despite my unsubtle reminders, most of our Sunday morning warmups were too short, too lazy, and completely unfocussed. After nagging for a while, I decided to step back and let them hang themselves.  I took notes, and only 3 of the roughly 20 swimmers properly prepared. This was going to be interesting.

It didn’t take long for the carnage to start. The first event of the day was the 200 Free, and we had swimmers who had PB’d every race in the meet so far swim up to 8 seconds off. They started off slow, and then got slower. And those 3 swimmers who warmed up properly?  They PB’d by 2, 3 and 3 seconds.

Luckily, there was a warmup pool available, so after the sub-par 200 Free swims, each of those swimmers were firmly sent back to do a full and proper warmup.  And from there things got better.

The best part was at finals on Sunday evening. I knew they were probably even more fatigued than they were in the morning, but no reminders were necessary. The whole group activated and warmed up with purpose.  And it showed. Of our 30 final swims, 26 of them held or improved their placing, and over half were Personal Bests.

Hopefully, this lesson will stick.



5 thoughts on “I’m Tired. Do I Still Have To Warmup?

  1. I was working with a coach who had a high performance swimmer and my role was to give advice. The swimmer always had poor races but good training times. I asked about her warmup. The coach insisted she was her ‘best’ swimmer (which she was statistically). So I watched her warm up carefully without her knowledge:
    50m swim. Look around to see where her coach was. Go to showers. Stay to end of warm up in showers and then swim another 50m.

    1. I had to laugh at that, Gary. A wonderful and all too frequent story. Even at this meet I had my oldest swimmer (only 16, but yes, my oldest) carefully detail to me all 350 m of his warmup. At least he did get back in when I pointed out the obvious. And I remember an ex-swimmer of mine (he changed clubs last year) tell me that he was doing all his activation on the floor in the change room….

  2. Hi Rick: Like your approach re. “…allowing them to hang themselves….” they might not have learned anything useful if you had forced the warm-up – allowing them to fail and hopefully learn from the experience should have them on target next time – because now they know….

    Great learning opportunity with a very small down-side.

    All the best!


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