It’s easy to focus on what you should be doing at a swim workout. But what about after you finish? What should you be doing after a swim workout?
While these aren’t hard and true rules that you should follow (except for number one), they can make things easier for you. Both physically and mentally.
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Just as some of these after workout steps can save you some money, too!
And while some of this is swimming (or water exercise specific), most of this can apply to other sports or workouts.
Here are 10 things you should do after a swim workout. But probably aren’t 😉
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- Taking Care of Yourself After a Swim Workout
- Taking Care of Your Gear/Equipment
- Thank Your Coach (if You Have One)
- Words of Encouragement or Praise
- In Closing
- Bonus Content
- Want to Improve at the Pool?
Taking Care of Yourself After a Swim Workout
Part of exercising is taking care of your health. Some people work out to get in shape, lose weight, tone up, or work on their health. And it’s easy to focus on just the workout itself.
But taking care of yourself after your swimming workout (or any workout!) is just as important. Doing so after each workout can help your body recover and mentally get you into a better place.
Swimming burns hundreds of calories in a short amount of time. And after any workout, you should eat something so your body can replenish what it lost.
Eating directly after swimming can help your muscles recover faster and build new muscle tissue.
Ideally, you should have a small, healthy snack right after your workout. And when you get home or to work, eat something larger.
And I will admit, I’m 100% guilty of waiting hours until after my swim practice to eat something.
It’s easy to come home and get busy or sidetracked by something else for hours on end. And then remember to eat.
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It’s a terrible habit for a competitive swimmer but it’s also a bad habit for non-competitive swimmers.
To make the most of your workout, try your best to eat as soon as you finish your workout. Preferably within 20-30 minutes of cooling down.
Whether that’s a smoothie, protein shake, or a meal.
And I’ll try too 😉
When you’re in a rush after your workout or you’re just tired and want to go home, it’s easy to skip the shower. But taking even five minutes to rinse off can help you take care of yourself after a swim workout.
Jumping into the shower to rinse off helps remove the chlorine, salt water, or other pool chemicals from your skin and hair. Even if you wore a swim cap, your hair isn’t completely protected.
While showering with body wash and shampoo/conditioner is ideal, we understand that not everyone has the time for it. At least not directly after a workout. If that’s the case, even just a quick rinse can help.
If you have time after your swim workout though, scrub down in the shower (or bath).
Not only will this help clean your hair and body, but it can also help you unwind from your workout. Especially if you’re not happy with how your workout went.
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Something about showers can just make you feel better 🙂
The warm water may also help any tired or sore muscles feel just a bit better. Just as you typically feel much more refreshed and relaxed after a shower. Even a quick one.
While you should stretch before getting into the water, you should also stretch after your swim workout.
Doing this can help prevent injury by reducing any lactic acid that built up in your muscles. And it can also be used to increase your flexibility, as your muscles and joints are already warm.
Stretching after a swim workout is especially important if you skipped a cool down. Or, if you didn’t have enough time to do a longer, more thorough cool down.
Do some rotations and other dynamic stretches to get the most out of your stretching session. And to keep cooling down your muscles. You can also use stretch bands to add to your stretching.
Dynamic stretches are exercises such as:
- Arm circles
- Lunges and squats
- Trunk/torso twists
- Jumping jacks
- Leg swings
Or, try static stretches to improve your flexibility.
Some static stretches are:
- Hamstring and calf stretches
- Shoulder stretch
- Overhead tricep stretch
Hydration is key whether you’re working out or not. It’s important to stay hydrated during your workout and after your workout.
Keeping your body well hydrated can help with muscle recovery. And for some, staying hydrated can also reduce the soreness that comes with working out.
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Drinking water is best for staying hydrated, as drinks such as soda, coffee, or alcohol can make you dehydrated. And when you’re dehydrated, you can’t perform at your best level.
Or you can try using a motivational reusable water bottle that encourages you to drink throughout the day. Such as this 32oz Motivational Water Bottle. Or a 64oz size, so you don’t have to fill up as frequently.
Taking Care of Your Gear/Equipment
Much like taking care of yourself is important, so too is taking care of your gear and equipment. Your gear performs best when it’s not falling apart or broken. And the best way to prevent this is to take care of it.
Rinse Out Your Suit
It’s easy to take off your suit and forget about it. But most of us know that swimsuits aren’t the cheapest thing out there. And not all swimsuits last as long as others.
However, the simple act of rinsing your swimsuit out with fresh water after a swim workout can help extend the life of your swimsuit.
Much like taking a shower removes the chemicals from your hair and skin, so too, does rinsing out your swimsuit.
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Chlorine especially eats away at the fabric and elastic over time. And saltwater can be just as rough on fabric.
Take a minute or so to thoroughly run your suit under some water. Or soak it in a sink or bucket for a few minutes. Once done, squeeze, but don’t wring, out the excess water. And lay it out flat to dry.
Dry Your Cap and Goggles
Which, if you’ve ever seen a mold-covered cap before, you know it’s disgusting.
It takes about 30 seconds or so to dry off the outside and inside material of your cap before putting it away. Doing so can also keep items in your swim bag dry.
While you’re drying off your cap, take another few seconds to wipe off water on your goggles.
Mainly the straps and outside lens of the goggle. Drying off the inside of the lens can remove the antifog coating.
This can also help keep your clothes dry inside your swim bag.
Let Your Gear Dry
We’re all guilty of throwing our gear into our gear bag or trunk and leaving it for the day. Or until the next practice.
But leaving your gear to sit around in a wet heap can shorten the life of some of the material. Rubber fins and the straps on paddles, for example.
And it can also make the inside of your car or trunk start to smell like chlorine. Or mold over time as the water gets into the fabric and other material in your car.
If you can, hang up your gear bag so the water can drip off everything and start to dry.
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Don’t have a gear bag? Take your gear out of your car if you store it there and bring it inside so it can dry. This has the extra benefit of keeping it away from the heat or cold, where the temperatures can also ruin the material.
You should also pull any gear out of your bag if you keep it there. Or dry them off before tossing them in your bag. I dry off my paddles before putting them in my bag. Even though the section of the bag I store them in is ‘breathable’.
Storing your gear in a locker is okay, just make sure you let it vent so it doesn’t start to mold or smell.
Empty/Clean Out Your Swim Bag
The quickest way to make your swim bag start to smell is by leaving wet towels, suits, or clothes in them. Either overnight or all weekend. Or longer.
It’s also the best way to ruin your towels and swimsuits. Mold grows quicker on your towels than you realize if you’re not thoroughly drying them each day. And washing them weekly.
Do yourself (and your belongings) a favor and pull out all wet/damp items in your swim bag after every swim workout. And make sure you dry all your wet items thoroughly to prevent the build-up of mold.
This will help your bag dry and air out. And while your belongings are in your hands, you can deal with the wet items accordingly.
The same goes for any clothes you may have worn while lifting weights or doing cardio. Before or after your swim workout. You don’t want to leave sweaty clothes in your bag 😉
It doesn’t take long to do this once you get home. And it can help ensure that your swim bag is ready for your next workout. Nothing is worse than heading to the pool only to realize your towel and suit are still wet in your bag.
If you go directly to work or school after your workout, find a place to stretch out your towel(s) and swimsuit so they can dry during the day. Especially if you go again in the afternoons.
I used an over the toilet rack at work in my office. It not only gave me a place to dry my towel, but also a shelf to lay out my suit, a shelf for my lunchbox, and my swim bag.
Thank Your Coach (if You Have One)
If you have a coach, take a few seconds to thank them at the end of your swim workout.
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Coaches put time and effort into writing each workout. Along with being at the pool to critique and offer suggestions during your training session.
For some, it’s a lot of hours. And they’re typically hours that most people don’t recognize. Despite all the work that went into it.
Try to get into the habit of telling your coach thanks, preferably after every workout, if you can. It doesn’t cost you anything, takes no more than 15 seconds, and you can easily make someone’s day for it. 🙂
Words of Encouragement or Praise
At the same time, take a few moments to tell your teammates or workout partners ‘good job’. Recognize their accomplishments for that workout with some praise or other uplifting words.
This goes a long way for some swimmers. More so than you would think.
Even a high five or a fist bump, followed by a ‘great workout’, can make someone feel better about their workout.
You don’t need to gush about all that they did. Simple is best.
Again, it doesn’t take much of your time or effort. And you’ll be surprised at how many people start to follow your lead and do the same. Don’t be afraid to start a new and positive trend at your pool!
It might seem like a long to-do checklist after you finish a swim workout. But most of these tasks take very little time. And they’ll go a long way for your physical and mental health in doing so. Along with keeping your gear and equipment lasting long.
As always, happy swimming!
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Chevron is a current competitive swimmer with almost 20 years of experience in the pool. And although she fell into the sport by accident in her high school years, she still trains daily and competes throughout the year. She’s committed to providing guidance to all levels of swimmers and believes that everyone should know how to swim.