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Should swimmers train the day before a meet?

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Do you have a swimming meet coming up in the following weeks where you would like to swim fast, maybe qualify for nationals, win a few medals, or maybe just practice your races and have fun while doing it? Well, in that case- you might be wondering whether or not you should train the day before your swim meet.

In short– yes, swimmers should train the day before a meet. It provides many benefits, including keeping your muscles loose and supple, assisting in maintaining good swim technique on the day of the meet, as well as providing you an opportunity to make final adjustments before racing.

Should swimmers train the day before a meetThere is a common misconception among some swimmers that training the day before a swimming meet is “bad” because you need to be resting and recovering so that you can swim fast the next day.

Personally, and I know almost every good swim coach will agree with me, I believe that you should be training the day before every single meet, whether it is a championship meet, a regular-season meet or a school swim meet.

Sure, the type of training the day before is going to vary depending on the type of meet you are swimming, but that doesn’t mean you should take the day off before your next swim meet.

Allow me to explain why-

5 Reasons swimmers should be training the day before a swim meet.

Here are 5 reason swimmers should train the day before a swim meet-

  • Training the day before helps to keep your muscles loose and supple.
  • It helps to keep your swimming technique fresh and intact.
  • Training the day before a swim meet gives you an opportunity to make final race adjustments.
  • It helps to keep your swim training on track for the rest of the season.
  • It can improve mental toughness on meet day.

1. Swimming the day before a meet keeps the muscles loose and assists with lactate break up.

Swimming the day before a meet is a great way to keep your muscles loose and primed for fast swimming. Additionally, it may also benefit you by breaking up lactic acid that has built up in your body from hard training sessions in the days before your meet.

When you go for a light swimming session, you will force the muscles to activate and blood to circulate through the tissue. This will help to remove any toxins (such as lactic acid) that could have built up during that day or the days before.

Ultimately, this is going to help you to feel looser and more refreshed to swim fast. You will most likely also be able to swim faster for longer periods of time because you have broken up some of those light toxins in the muscle tissue that may have otherwise caused fatigue and pain to set in faster during your race.

For those of you who want to take things a bit further, you might want to consider also doing some static and dynamic stretching after your swimming workout. This is just going to help to increase flexibility and mobility even further, which could benefit your swimming in the following days.

2. Training the day before a swim meet keeps your swim technique fresh and intact.

All of us have missed a day of swim training due to sickness, being tired from school or work, or to put it simply for some swimmers- being plain lazy.

Anyway, once we returned to swim practice the next day, your swimming technique will usually feel a bit off, your body position might not be as good, or it may feel as if you have no grip in the water.

Now, quickly think about that- would you want to feel that way on the day of your swim meet? I don’t think so. I mean why would you? You are there to swim as fast as possible and to give it your everything. It is an opportunity to practice for your upcoming championship meets or to work on certain parts of your race plan.

To avoid this, you can simply go to training the day before your swim meet. You don’t necessarily have to train hard and dish out hundreds upon hundreds of laps.

You can just focus on completing an easy recovery workout while focusing on your swimming technique, turns, and whatever else you feel like necessary.

3. Swim practice the day before a meet provides swimmers with an opportunity to make final adjustments before their races.

Swimming practice is the place where we forge our swimming skills and technique. And it is exactly the place where you can spend some time fixing certain parts of your stroke, turns, dives, technique, or race plans the day before your swim meet.

It is always nice to spend some time working on adjusting and perfecting certain areas of your swimming the day before a meet. This is going to keep you fresh and aware of what to do when it is time to race and swim fast.

You don’t necessarily have to spend your entire swim practice adjusting things, you can simply complete a nice recovery workout and then spend 20 or 30 minutes working on a few key things that you would like to fix or adjust for your race.

Examples include diving with more power on your front foot or getting your back leg up during the dive. Maybe focusing on your hand position during the open turns to avoid getting disqualified and so on.

4. Training before a swim meet helps to keeps your swimming on track for the rest of the season.

If you decide to skip a training session the day before a meet you are losing valuable time that you could have otherwise spent on becoming a better, fitter and stronger swimmer. Ultimately, this is more important than focusing on the swim meet the following day.

Instead, you should be focusing on the big championship swim meets at the end of the season and becoming as fit as possible so that you can swim as fast as possible at those meets.

If you are, however, preparing for a big swim meet, it is still important to go and swim the day before for obvious reasons as listed above.

5. Swimming the day before a meet can improve mental toughness to fight through hard races.

By sticking to your usual training schedule and going all out in training the day before a meet is also not always such a bad idea, especially for regular season or school swim meets.

This is going to keep your body in a fatigued and regular “untapered” state which is most likely going to result in more pain during your races. Now I know what you are thinking- “why would you want to do that?”

By going through some pain and hurting a bit during your swimming races, you are teaching yourself certain principles of mental toughness, especially if you keep pushing harder as you become more fatigued during your race.

Ultimately, this can help you to win gold or obtain that important qualifying time by pushing that extra bit harder when things start to get painful and your body wants to slow down.

As a bonus, you will also be fitter and stronger later in the swim season, because you decided to keep training hard and not to slack down for some small swim meet.

Deciding what type of swim training to do before you meet

Now that we have discussed why you should train and go to swimming practice the day or night before a swimming competition. We are just also quickly going to discuss what type of swim training you should be doing before your swim meet or competition.

If you are swimming a regular season or school meet the next day, don’t even worry about changing your workout schedule. Just keep going hard in training and keep your eyes on the big meets laying ahead. If you really wanted to you can work on some dives, turns, and other aspects after your swimming after your initial workout to prepare for the meet the next day.

If you are, however, trying to get a qualifying time during a regular season meet, you might consider going a bit easier and focusing a bit more on the recovery side of things.

And lastly, if you are preparing for a big and important meet, you should definitely be on taper preparing to swim as fast as possible at that meet. A study published in the Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise found that a proper swim taper can increase swimming speed and power by 5% or more, thus you should definitely consider tapering for those important meets.

3 Awesome Swimming sets and workouts to do the day before a meet

Swimming workout 1- lactate break up and technique focus.

  • Warmup: 600 easy choice swim.
  • Pre-Set: 15×50’s drills (1 main stroke 50, 1 choice 50).
  • Main-set: 5×200 IMs focusing on technique, 20 seconds rest.
  • Cooldown: 10x75s flush swim (Flush= 15 fast swim, rest easy)
  • Total: 3100 meters/yards

Swimming workout 2- general recovery swimming.

  • Warmup: 800 easy choice swim
  • Pre-set: 5×100’s kicking with board and fins, last 15 blast, 20 seconds rest.
  • Main-set: 3 Rounds- 300 freestyle swim focusing on technique, 50 main stroke sprint, 50 easy backstroke swim followed by 30 seconds rest.
  • Cooldown: 500 easy backstroke swimming.
  • Total: 3000 meters/yards

Swimming workout 3- race preparation swimming.

  • Warmup: 400 easy swim, 
  • Pre-set: 3 Rounds- 25 blast main stroke with fins and paddles and 50 fast body position kick, followed by 500 easy backstroke swim.
  • Main-set: 8x50s sprint for time on 1 minute, easy 200 swim, 50 sprint off the blocks for time, 300 easy swim.
  • Cooldown: 10×100’s flush swim
  • Total: 3075 meters/yards


It is quite clear that training the day before a meet holds many benefits for swimmers, including better preparation, more flexibility and mobility, enhanced mental toughness, and so on.

Personally, I highly recommend swimmers to try and get to the pool for a workout the day before a meet.

What you do at the pool is up to you, as I said, if it’s a regular season meet I would just stick with the usual training program, if it’s a bit more important you can consider doing a recovery session and if it’s a championship meet, you should have been tapering a long time ago.


Source 1– Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise

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About the author



I am Benjamin, a competitive swimmer with many years of experience in the sport of swimming. I am very passionate about competitive swimming and love sharing everything I have learned about the sport. I specialize in swimming butterfly and my favorite event is the 100m butterfly with the 50m and 200m fly closely following.

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