On the day of a meet there is a bunch of stuff that swimmers need to pay attention to if they're going to perform optimally. The Meet Protocol is designed to ensure everything gets done in the correct way at the correct time.
Remember: the better prepared an athlete is, the better the performance they'll deliver.
Meet Protocol Explained
Dry Land Warm-up (Blood flow stretching)
After a hard week of training the morning of your meet is likely to be accompanied by tired, stiff, aching bodies. It's important to prepare those bodies properly before diving in to the pool for warm up (equally important before training). To do that, we work through a dry land warm up to make sure muscles have an adequate blood supply and are warm and supple before trying to swim.
The bigger the movement, the more blood flow is generated, the warmer and more awake you become, and the better the flow of fuel and nutrients to the muscles.
Below is listed the basic blood flow stretching routine, but as it is usually led by our senior swimmers present on the day, they may choose to add variety to this selection - follow their lead.
- Skipping or jumping/jogging on the spot
- Arm swings (left arm forward, right arm forwards, left arm backward, right arm backward)
- Shoulder touches
- Bent over swings (alternate arms and double arms)
- Bent over hugs (single arm and double arms)
- Leg swings (left leg and right leg)
- Cross body leg swings (left leg and right leg)
This needs to continue for at least 10mins for maximum benefit. There are 14 activities listed (left arm, right arm, etc) so spend approximately 40sec to 1min on each.
Remember: we do blood flow stretching as a team! Everyone needs to be pool side 15mins prior to the first warm up irrespective of whether that is a boys or girls warm up!
One big difference between Elite swimmers and average club swimmers is that the former know exactly what they need to do during the 30min pool warm up. Phase 4 repeat this every Saturday morning so everyone from P4 upwards should now be familiar with it
- Swim Fc 400m, with easy, smooth strokes
- Swim #1 2x100m, with race quality* turns
- Swim Fc 200m, increasing Stroke Rate and Kick Speed every 50m
- Swim #1 2x100m, spike 10m at some point
- Swim #1 2x25m, race quality* with target pace
- Swim Choice 200m, recovery with perfect technique
Pay attention to the detail during warm ups. Start the day swimming with perfect skills to reinforce how you want to swim your race. If the warm up states "Race Quality", then that particular skill should be done exactly as you plan to execute it in your race.
The race quality speed work (number 5), should always have a target pace in mind. If your main event of the day is a 200m Butterfly, your target pace should be the split that you want to swim through the first 25m of your race not your 25m Butterfly PB! Do your home work before the big day and work out what that 25m split needs to be.
Then be aware that in a 50m pool you need to swim through the 25m mark as coaches time to head mid-pool, not to hand (the hand won't be at the same point of the stroke cycle every time, the head will never vary). In a 25m pool you need to finish to feet (i.e. go through the turn).
Obviously, after any kind of speed work, no matter how short, we need a brief recovery swim. Swimming at a high intensity produces lactic acid in the muscles and we need to make sure there's adequate blood flow through the muscles to remove it before we sit around on pool side for hours.
The #1 stroke refered to in the warm up is the stroke you're focusing on in the upcoming session, your main event this session.
Pre Race Warm-up
After sitting around for an hour or so waiting for your event, it's important to wake up the muscles and increase the blood flowing through your body again. Blood transports fuel to the muscles and you want that fuel supply to be in the muscles ready to be used before your race starts, not arriving half way through your race.
Whether you feel it necessary or not, make sure you're repeating the blood flow stretching from earlier while waiting in the ready-room.
If the gap between session warm-up and your first event is longer than a couple of hours, it's probably worth jumping in the swim down pool for 10-15mins before heading to marshalling. This helps you to refocus on swimming instead of chatting with your friends.
As stated earlier, any intense exercise leaves lactic acid in the muscles and you don't want to be sat around for any length of time allowing it to accumulate. It's also beneficial to control how the heart rate returns to normal over 15-20mins to aid the recovery process.
Swim down will be adjusted to suit individual needs, so listen to your coach and do exactly what they ask for.
Recently you've been asked to do some variant of the following, although this does depend on how much time is available between races.
- Swim 100m on-stroke (whatever stroke you've just swum)
- Swim 100m off-stroke (a different stroke)
- Kick 100m with a 15m spike (i.e. FAST)
- Repeat the above 3 times
Remember to adjust for different pool sizes!
Recovery is also improved by eating/drinking a high-carbohydrate snack as you walk back from your race or head over to swim down (within a few minutes of your race). An energy bar, banana, or recovery drink would be ideal. There's a short period of time following intense exercise where the body absorbs the energy from such a snack much more efficiently. Take advantage of that.