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Warming up and stretching for open water swimming

It can be tough to fully acclimatise to conditions ahead of an open water swim, but there is plenty you can do on land to get yourself ready.

Whether you’re training or competing, a thorough warm up is essential before getting into the water.

In the video below, World Championship medallist James Wilby demonstrates some key exercises which should have you well prepared for your next swim.

You can either watch the video in full below, or click on the panels below to view the individual stretches and exercises.

Warm up exercises and stretching for open water swimming

The warm ups should be performed in the order:

  1. Raise
  2. Mobilise
  3. Activate
  4. Prime

Raise

Raise your heart rate by performing the following pairs of exercises. Complete the two exercises for 30 seconds, then rest for 15 seconds. Repeat the two exercises again for 30 seconds, then move on to the next pair of exercises.

High knee running and dynamic hamstring stretches

Click or tap play to view a video demonstration of high knee running and dynamic hamstring stretches.

Quick walk outs and prone leg kicks

Click or tap play to view a video demonstration of quick walk outs and prone leg kicks.

Mountain climbers and sword draws

Click or tap play to view a video demonstration of mountain climbers and sword draws.

Mobilise

Increase your mobility with the following exercises and stretches. Perform five reps on each side, or five reps in total if you are not isolating one side of your body.

Levator scapula

Click or tap play to view a video demonstration of a levator scapula stretch.

Thoracic open ups

Click or tap play to view a video demonstration of thoracic open ups.

Thread the needle

Click or tap play to view a video demonstration of a thread the needle exercise.

Cat/dog stretch

Click or tap play to view a video demonstration of a cat/dog stretch.

Walking Spiderman

Click or tap play to view a video demonstration of a walking spiderman stretch.

Hip flexors & lats

Click or tap play to view a video demonstration of hip flexors and lats stretch.

Dynamic lunge with rotation

Click or tap play to view a video demonstration of a dynamic lunge with rotation.

Side lunge with punch & band

Click or tap play to view a video demonstration of a side lunch with punch and band.

Alternate straight leg raise

Click or tap play to view a video demonstration of an alternate straight leg raise.

Lats

Click or tap play to view a video demonstration of a lats stretch.

Activate

Activate your key muscles using the following exercises. Perform between five and 10 reps on each side, or five reps in total if you are not isolating one side of your body.

Deep squat rotation

Click or tap play to view a video demonstration of a deep squat rotation stretch.

Prone YWs

Click or tap play to view a video demonstration of prone YW exercises.

Push-up plus

Click or tap play to view a video demonstration of push-up plus.

Single leg RDL

Click or tap play to view a video demonstration of a single leg RDL.

Superman

Click or tap play to view a video demonstration of a superman stretch.

Prime

Finish your warm up with some high-intensity aerobic exercises. Complete the following exercises for 30 seconds, with 15 seconds in between each. Then repeat so you have done each exercise twice.

High knee running

Click or tap play to view a video demonstration of high knee running.

Walk outs

Click or tap play to view a video demonstration of walk outs.

Mountain climbers

Click or tap play to view a video demonstration of mountain climbers.

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