What is Dryland in Swimming?

If you know a swimmer or just started swimming, you might hear the word ‘dryland’ mentioned. And you’re probably wondering what is dryland? This swim practice terminology is unique to the sport and swimmers use it without realizing the confusion it causes.

In this article, we’ll cover what dryland is and answer a few other questions about it along the way 🙂

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Pin image with two pictures. One of a stability ball and pink/yellow mats and another of swimmers in a pool. A white box with black text reads: what is dryland in swimming?

What is Dryland?

Dryland is the time during practice when swimmers train outside of the pool. Typically, this workout is done in the weight room or around the pool deck. This can also be some form of cardio, such as running stadiums or biking. 

Related article: 30 Words to Get You By at Swim Practice

In short, dryland is what most other sports and athletes call ‘weights’. 

We know. It’s easier to call it weights and save everyone the confusion, but we just like the word dryland. 🙂

Why is Dryland Important for Swimmers?

Swimming is a great, full-body workout that’s low impact and easy on the joints. It’s also a fantastic cardio workout and can be used to help lose weight. 

And while it can tone and work muscles, it’s not the best for building muscle.

Because of this, swimmers need to lift weights if they want to build and strengthen their muscles. This helps ensure they have the power to push off walls faster and stronger. And that their muscles are developed enough to pull them through the water.

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In addition to lifting and cardio, dryland typically focuses heavily on core/ab work. Swimming starts at the core and keeping the muscles strong can help the body balance in the water.

What Should Swimmers Wear for Dryland?

No matter where you do dryland, you should ensure you’ve dressed appropriately for weights. This means tennis shoes instead of sandals, and whatever clothing you’re comfortable lifting in. Such as shorts and a t-shirt. 

We also recommend that you take off any jewelry that you might have on. This can help avoid any damage to your belongings and yourself, in the event something gets caught on a machine. You should also pull back your hair if it’s long.

Do Swimmers Have to Use Weights in Dryland?

Not all the time. Some dryland exercises aren’t with weights at all. Rather, they’re with stretch bands or therabands. 

These aren’t just good for stretching but they can also work the muscles if done properly. 

Stretch bands from StrechCordz are specific to swimmers and can aid in stroke development. If your team has a set, try getting in a few sets with each arm. It shouldn’t take long to get a good burn going!

More Content for You: What to Know About Swim Practice & Dryland

Swimmers can also use body weight instead of weights in the dryland room. Push-ups, planks, and wall sits all work key muscles in swimming. And they can be done without weights. 

How Often Should Swimmers Do Dryland?

While this varies greatly by team (and by the swimmer’s age), most teams do dryland about three times a week. As a swimmer increases in age or level, the number of dryland workouts might increase.

Some teams do core work at every practice and can often add some cardio in after practice. While other teams might do smaller lift sessions in between the main dryland practices.

If you’re joining a swim team for the first time, ask the coach what the dryland schedule looks like. And what’s expected for you.

Younger swimmers shouldn’t do much dryland, in terms of weights. Bodyweight exercises, such as push-ups and squats are okay. But they don’t need to be lifting heavy. If you have concerns about a weight/strengthening program, speak to the coach and your child’s doctor.

Core Dryland Workouts for Swimmers

Swimming starts at the core and every swimmer should take time to focus on the core during dryland. 

Most core exercises can be completed without weight, but there’s no harm in adding weight. Start with smaller weights and build up. 

Core exercises range from simple sit-ups to Russian Twists, dead bugs, and other various workouts. Every team has their sets that they do and it’s not uncommon to use medicine balls to add to the difficulty.

Cardio Dryland for Swimmers

Swimming is all about cardio. It’s one of the best cardio workouts you can get for your body. 

It’s also one of the easier overlooked aspects in dryland. But working on your cardio in dryland can help improve your cardio in the pool, too. 

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And cardio in dryland doesn’t have to be just running. Or doing stadiums. 

Jump rope, squat jumps, box jumps, and burpees are all excellent cardio workouts. They are also geared towards swimmers, as squat and box jumps and burpees can help better a swimmer’s walls in the pool.

These workouts not only work cardio but also offer a good leg workout. 

Can I do Dryland at Home?

You can! It’s easy to do various dryland workouts at home. Core work is especially easy to do at home or even while traveling. 

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While you won’t be able to use weight machines at home or other equipment, it shouldn’t stop you from getting in a workout. You can do dryland workouts without weights at home

We highly recommend that you write out your dryland workout before getting started. Having a workout already planned out makes the process go much smoother. And you’ll spend more time working out than trying to figure out what to do next.

Once you have a workout in mind, find a large area and make sure you stretch/warm-up before you start. And once you finish your sets, be sure to cool down and stretch out, too. 

Want to add some weights to your dryland workouts at home? Be sure to check out our suggestions for the Best Dryland Equipment for Swimmers at Home article.

As always, to happy swimming!

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Bonus Content:

What do Swimmers do at Swim Practice?: Swim practice is more than just swimming laps for swimmers. It’s long hours training at the pool. Here are some things that swimmers do at swim practice.


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