Warming Up for Warm Up

Warming Up for Warm Up:

Our Ambassadors ShareTheir Activation Routines

by James Fike

Over the past year I’ve learned just how important it is to warm up before you jump in the pool to warm up. Yeah, that’s a head scratcher. What’s the point of warm-up if you have to warm up for it?  Think about it this way, your muscles are dormant until you begin using them. Activation drills are like a slowly brightening light waking everything up gently.  Jumping in a cold pool, and probably swimming quickly because it is cold, is like an alarm clock blaring as the curtains sweep open.  As the name implies, activation drills activate your muscles and turn on your nervous system, and in a sport based heavily on feel, that’s very important.  It allows you to be dialed in from the very first stroke.  

Our ambassadors, some of the best in the world in their events, were kind enough to share their activation routines below.  Note how different all of them are.  There is no right or wrong, you just have to come up with something that feels good for you.

Ali DeLoof

Ali has quite a developed routine. Whereas some swimmers might focus on specific areas (see Emily below),Ali hits all the muscle groups, with an emphasis on her core.  She has done a lot of work throughout her training to better engage her core in her backstroke, and that’s evident in her activation drills below:

1) Quick foam roll to the whole body 5-10 mins worth
2) Cat Cow Stretch about 5
3) Glute bridge 1 set of 10
4) Dead bugs about 10 each side
5) Plank hold for about 30 seconds
6) Quadruped opposite knee to elbow about 5-10 each side
7) Jumping jacks about 30 seconds
8) Cross country skiers about 30 seconds
9) Lunge with a twist to both sides of body 5 each side
10) 10 body weight squats
11) Hip flexor stretch reach arm up and reach to the opposite side of the hip flexor you are stretching


Maddy Banic

“I start with foam rolling to kinda wake up my muscles and get them loose before I dive in the water.  I usually spend about 15 seconds on each area.”

Foam rolling areas:
1) Upper back
2) Lower back
3) Glutes
4) Hamstrings
5) Calves
6) IT bands
7) Quads
“Then I do a mixture of static and dynamic stretching, although I pulse in astatic stretch to feel a better stretch.  I do this to keep loosening up what I workedon with foam rolling.”

1) Single leg stretch and reach
2) Double leg reach
3) Butterfly
4) Campfire pose
5) 3x

Up dog

Down dog


6) Hip flexor stretch
7) Arm circles
8) Money arms
9) Speed skater

“The last part of my warm-up is some jumps.  I use this to activate my fast twitch fibersand get mentally and physically motivated to go fast. This also gives me anidea of how explosive my body feels that day.”

10 little hops with shoulder shrugs
1 max tuck jump into soft landing


Emily Escobedo

Emily is one of the world’s top breaststrokers, so much of her routinerevolves around activating her adductors, abductors, hips and glutes.  Kick is a critical part of any breaststroker’ssuccess and those muscles are engaged in a way unique to breaststroke.


1) Donkey kick with ankle weight 2-3 sets of 10 reps

2) Leg abduction 2-3 sets of 10 reps

3) Leg adduction 2-3 sets of 10 reps

4) Easy twist


Aly Tetzloff

Aly’s might be the most straightforward. She spends about 5-10 minutes foam rolling before doing:

4x50 jump rope taps mixing up double leg, single leg, alternating, and highknee

“I like to do exercises that get the blood going so I’m not diving in fora meet warm-up already cold, because typically I’m cold from the pool, haha.”

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