Pool Swimming Race Day – 8 Essential Tips

Pool Swimming Training & Events

Pool Swimming Race Day – 8 Essential Tips

Got a swimming event coming up? Find out from Adam Walker how best to ready yourself for your race with these essential tips on race preparation.

Got a swimming event coming up? Find out from Adam Walker how best to ready yourself for your race with these essential tips on race preparation.

The night before your race

Part of the winning preparation actually starts the night before. Pack your kit the previous evening, so it’s one less thing to think about on race day and therefore you are actively reducing your stress. Eat well and make sure your drink plenty of water (no alcohol) and get a good night’s sleep.

Morning of the race

It’s important to eat at least two hours before. I would recommend porridge/oats. However if that’s not to your liking you could have some wholegrain toast with jam or honey. Bananas are also a great form of carbohydrate. Try and avoid high sugar fruit juices, you could go for a protein shake or even a glass of milk.

When you arrive at the pool

It might sound obvious, arriving early to the pool, will help with nerves to get familiar with the environment and allowing you to do a good warm up. Getting a feel for the swim blocks, walls to push off, and practising strokes into the turn and wall can all give you extra reassurance on the day. You may know prior to arriving what lane you will be in, if so you should warm up in that particular lane if possible. Alternatively you may be doing multiple events and therefore you could be in more than one lane. If possible and there’s time, have a practice in each of them.

Waiting before a race

This final preparation time can be used for discussion with your coach on tactics, stay   hydrated. I liked to play music as well as listen to motivational talks to keep me focused. If it is a long way before your race, you may choose to find a quiet spot and close your eyes and relax.


You may have a number of races that day, so not only do you need to stay relaxed and focused, it’s also important to stay hydrated and take some snacks. Eating food will keep your energy levels up. Foods such as dried or fresh fruit again bananas are great as they are high in carbs. Carb bars, unsalted nuts such as cashew, almonds, and brazils. You may want to take a bowl of wholemeal pasta mixed with tuna which have carbs and protein and help keep your energy levels high.

Race strategy

You know your game planned, it’s now about putting it into action. Visualising the whole race from start, during and end. I firmly believe you get what you focus on. Rehearse it in your mind. This is where you execute all the training and the hard work. You know what  you’re capable of, it’s now believing in yourself and giving it 100 per cent in your race.

Time to race

Make sure you have gone to the toilet in plenty of time before the race, there’s nothing worse than being called up and you have to run to the loo! You may want to start stretching before you hear the call so you are well and truly limbered up. I would focus on calf, hamstring, groin for the legs and loosening off the chest, shoulders, triceps and back. Also get some movement in your neck muscles and head.

Stay focused, I use to joke to alleviate the nerves and some people like to be quiet and avoid eye contact and stay in their zone. Whatever works for you, when it comes to getting on the blocks or jumping in the water for backstroke, take one last deep breath in and long exhale to shake off any final nerves. Then give it everything you have!

After the race

Have a good shower to rinse off any chlorine to look after your skin and again ensure you drink plenty of water or recovery drink to support the recovery of your muscles. It may also be a good idea to get a massage that evening, especially if you are competing the following day or next couple of days in order to further help your recovery. Make sure you put a jacket on to keep warm when exiting the sports centre (especially important for colder climates) as you could be more prone to the common cold going from a warm water environment to cold air.