Because swimming is so technique-driven and flexibility is crucial to good technique, it’s wise to use a dynamic—or active—stretching program prior to the warm-up. Think of it like the warm-up’s warm-up. It shouldn’t take more than 5 to 10 minutes.
Dynamic Stretching Warm-Up
This routine consists of seven dynamic stretches designed to prepare you for an effective swim workout. Do each movement for about 20 seconds, performing the entire routine three times through.
Triple Extension Y-Reach
Squat down, keeping your knees behind your toes, and elongate your spine as you reach your hands up and forward. Extend hips, knees, and heels upward to create a straight line as you reach, placing your hands behind you, with your shoulders down.
Crab Hip Rotation
Rotate your hips so that all parts of the sides of your legs touch the ground, relaxing your lower back and stretching your hips. This is particularly useful if you’ve done a long ride or run prior to swimming.
Side Lying Windmill
Start with hands together, lying on your side. Bring top hand above your face and past it until it hits the floor and opens your chest. Next, bring the moving arm in an arc above the top of your head, sweeping the floor if possible.
Shoulder Shrug Overhead Extension
Simply bring hands and shoulders up above your head while keeping all parts of your back touching the ground throughout the whole movement.
Lie on your stomach, hands to your sides with palms down. Twist your torso with a bent knee to have your left foot’s toe touching your right hand. Halfway through the set, touch and hold the foot with the opposite hand.
Lift one foot with a locked knee as high as you can in front of you as you lie flat on your back with hands extended to sides, palms down. Move the foot in an arc above you to the opposite side of your body. When it touches the ground, sweep the leg across the ground beneath you to return to the starting position. Alternate legs.
Push-Up to Downward Dog
Lie facedown on the ground, hands off the floor. Flex your scapula behind you, engage with your hands into a push-up as you bend into a pike, and use your shoulders to drive your heels backward.
Adapted from The Triathlete Guide to Sprint & Olympic Racing by Chris Foster with permission of VeloPress.