A swim parent asked me a simple question last week for an upcoming session with her daughter.
"Is there any equipment she should bring?" she asked.
"No" I replied.
"Wait, none at all?"
Many people are enjoying the youtube series “Darkhorse” with Shane Tusup and Ilaria Cusinato. I am not one of those people. Through five episodes I had completely avoided it. On episode six, a friend texted me and finally broke my will.
Frustrations, big and small, are real and deserve more than to be dismissed as negativity. They present their own opportunities, even if they can be hard to see or even accept in the moment. Right now I find myself with a little extra time to put thoughts down on a page before I’m en route.
As is well documented, I am addicted to swimming job boards. Your guess as to why is as good as mine. Do I like fantasizing about barely making a living in inconvenient locations? Do I do it to torture my wife (yes)? Is the grass always greener on the other side?
But I digress, this blog post is not about all that. I was speaking with someone (vague stories are all the rage now) who was curious about why a certain international team was essentially getting their PR done for them by a certain Swimswam “reporter”. I’ll explain all the scare quotes later, I promise.
Today, I'm swimming in my first swim meet for four years (more on that in another post after the weekend). I will not be attending the general warmup sessions. This is something I haven't been doing for the entirety of my post-college career, and a practice that trickled into the college and club swimmers that I coached.
General warmup is just one of a large group of things that "we do" in swimming that don't make a lot of sense. What is the purpose of a general warmup? To get you ready to race in the subsequent events, right?
Let me use my own meet this weekend for an example. General warmup is taking place as we speak, from 8:00-9:00 AM. My race is due to jump in the water at 2:57 PM this afternoon. There is no way on earth that a warmup from 9:00 in the morning will carry forward six hours to my race.
"But wait!" you say. What about getting accustomed to the blocks at a new place, learning to sight the walls, etc. I happen to be swimming at a pool (Harvard University) where I have swam so many times I've lost count.
Chances are, many swimmers that you bring to a particular meet will be familiar with the facilities. If not, consider organizing some way for them to familiarize themselves with the pool well in advance of an early morning warmup that will not actually warm them up for their race. After all, you wouldn't be trying to teach them a whole knew technique the day of the meet, right?
Lastly, don't even get me started on the "wake-up swim" people. There are plenty of ways to get somebody fully awake well in advance of their race that don't include some useless laps. Oh, and please, please do not swim timed sprint or pace 25s in the warmup. I'll have to write an entire different post on that subject.
The real reason to skip general warmup is not what I've written above, dismissing some of the common reasons people do it. People who choose to do general warmup often see only the benefits without realizing the great costs that general warmup inflict on swimmers. Let me summarize
All that said, there are some situations where you might find it best to have a particular swimmer or set of swimmers at a general warmup. I think those situations are fewer and farther between than what I witness at most swim meets.