Recovery can play a huge role in swimming and is a key part of performing and training well.
Making sure your body is in the best shape possible by giving it every opportunity to recover and rest, will help you immensely when backing up training and/or competitions.
Recovery is also important in preventing injuries and lessening fatigue so it is important to recover correctly and consistently.
Here are a few points to consider to help your recovery and boost your performance in the pool.
Make sure to fuel your body before and after each swim so you have enough energy to function during the swim and to effectively recover after the swim.
Before your swim it is a good idea to have a small meal containing slow-releasing carbohydrates (ie. porridge or an up-and go) to give you fuel.
After your swim, having some protein and carbohydrates will go a long way as the carbohydrates and protein will replenish your energy stores as well as activate protein synthesis for muscle repair.
A good example is a protein shake with a banana, this will help you a lot as it can not only improve muscle recovery, but it can promote muscle growth, immune system function and improve metabolism.
Keeping hydrated is important for staying fit and healthy in any sport, however, this is especially true to swimming.
When swimming you lose a lot of water through sweat although it is much harder to notice and therefore easier to become dehydrated.
It is highly recommended that you bring a water bottle with you and drink from it throughout your swim.
It is also good to know your hydration levels by analysing your urine, see this chart from the Australian health department below:
Sleep is almost a given as it will help give your body time to recover, however, it is important you get enough sleep!
Research suggests that you should get around 8 hours sleep per night to effectively recover.
Activating and Stretching
Activating before and stretching after a swim can massively help recovery.
Doing active stretches like lunges and arm/leg swings before your swim can help warm up your muscles and prevent injuries.
On the other hand, doing static stretches after a swim can also help physically loosen muscles and improve recovery.
Warm Up and Cool Down
Doing a warm up and cool down is an integral part to any swim session. Doing a proper warm up can help activate your muscles and improve your performance.
The warm up should be easy but be sure to include some small efforts and vary your strokes to warm up all muscle groups.
The cool down is just as important as the warm up as it helps with recovery.
If you skip a cool down one day, you'll surely regret it the next.
Cooling down anywhere between 200-800 meters (the more intense the swim, the longer the cooldown) can help remove the lactic acid from your muscles and reduce soreness.
A Sports Massage is also a helpful way to increase recovery as it can help physically remove any metabolic waste in muscles and get rid of any small knots that may have formed during a swim.
But be warned, a sports massage may not be as pleasant as a regular massage! You don't have to see a masseuse though to get the most out of a massage.
You can be your own masseuse with a foam roller, trigger ball or massage stick.
These tools manipulate and loosen specific tight points in muscles called trigger points which often cause a reduction in blood flow and contraction speed.