Three Stretches to Do Before Swimming

Learn how to do three common stretches for swimmers to get you warmed up for the water.

April 17, 2019

Swimming is a full-body exercise. Like any workout or practice, a strong warmup can make or break your progress. One key to any good warmup is stretching your muscles before you head into the water. Division I swimming and diving coach Marc Christian is here to share three of his favorites.

Before diving right into your swimming stretches, Christian notes that it’s important to keep in mind that different stretches may have more than one identity.

“With stretches, there’s a lot of them out there and people call them by all different names,” Christian says. “So, you have to be aware of what different stretches you’re doing and what people are calling them.”


The first stretch Christian recommends for swimmers is a tricep extension. This move helps stretch out – you guessed it – your triceps. Additionally, it can help warm up surrounding muscles, including your lats and shoulders. You use this muscle group with every stroke you take in the water.

To perform a tricep extension:

  • Take one arm and bend it behind your back.
  • Place the hand of your opposite arm on your elbow.
  • Pull down on your elbow to stretch your tricep.
  • Hold the stretch for 10 seconds and switch arms.

“Feel free to do that up to six times or more depending on your comfortability,” Christian adds.


Continue getting your body into the swing of things by adding arm swings to your stretching routine. Unlike other stretches, this move isn’t a static position that you hold. Rather, arm swings are a series of repeated movements that can help open your chest and loosen your arms.

To execute your arm swings:

  • Stand straight and begin with your arms stretched out to the sides.
  • Bring your arms inward, crossing them at the front.
  • Quickly pull your arms back apart as far as you can.
  • Continue this motion for a full minute.

To get the most out of your arm swings, Christian recommends you repeat the move at least three times.


Get a leg up on the competition by adding a quad pull to your swimming warmup. A strong kick is crucial to a strong swimming performance and this move can get your legs ready for action.

To complete the quad pull:

  • Stand up straight and bend one leg at the knee.
  • Grab the foot of your bent leg with your hands.
  • Hold your foot so that it is parallel with your back.
  • Continue to hold this stretch for 10 seconds and switch sides.

While these three stretches are great for swimmers, you can use them for a variety of activities.

“Remember, stretching is very important to every sport. Be sure to add it to your swimming workout,” Christian says.

Now that you know a few ways to get your body physically ready for the pool, check out our Pro Tips guide on pre-meet warm-up tips to learn the mental side of the sport, too.