What You Need to Recover From an Intense Swimming Session

Swimming is an excellent form of exercise. Your buoyancy in the water means that it’s relatively easy on your joints. The water provides resistance that can strengthen your muscles and the continuous movement helps you strengthen your cardiovascular system. Depending on how hard you go, swimming sessions can be pretty intense. So how do you recover from that?


Did you know that you can become dehydrated from swimming? It may seem a little counterintuitive, considering you swim in water, but it’s true. Simply being in the water doesn’t stop your body from water loss through sweat production. In fact, it makes it more difficult for your body to regulate its temperature effectively. Drinking plenty of water before, during, and after your swim session will help you stay hydrated so you can perform better and recover better.


You spend a lot of energy while you’re swimming. Your muscles are working hard, and they need fuel to properly recover when you’re finished. The ideal post-swim snack will be a good mix of carbohydrates and protein. The carbohydrates restore your body’s glycogen stores and the protein provides your muscles with what they need to rebuild. Shoot for eating a 200-300 calorie snack within 30 minutes of your workout that has a carb-to-protein ratio of 3:1 or 4:1.


It may seem a bit odd to include movement in your post-swim recovery process, but it makes sense if you think about it. Start your recovery process before your swim session with a good warm-up. Warming up primes your skeletal system and muscles for the work you’re about to do. That can go a long way towards minimizing the damage you sustain and helping you recover better. 

After you’re done swimming, movement keeps your blood flowing and reduces residual fatigue. It can also help you reduce your blood lactate concentrations. This movement doesn’t have to be (and probably shouldn’t be) anything very strenuous. A light, easy swim, a walk, and yoga practice are all great ways to get moving that can help you recover after an intense swimming session.

As with any other type of exercise, it’s important to make recovery a priority. Doing so allows your body to rebuild itself after the work you put it through so it can come back stronger and better. Give yourself plenty of water and fuel, and don’t forget to keep moving, even if only gently. Get plenty of rest too. Remember to pay attention to your body–it will tell you what it needs. Click here to find strength training techniques to take your skill to the next level.