A for Athlete

What is “Warm Down?”[]

The mixed zone is full ... a swimmer has just had the swim of his life ... journalists are ready with their tape recorders poised ... but the swimmer, the subject of flashbulbs and column inches, gives two short answers and leaves.


What happens now?

U.S. National Team swimmers are encouraged by USA Swimming’s sports scientists, as well as their coaches, to arrive at the “warm-down pool” no later than three minutes after finishing their race. When they arrive, they’re immediately given a blood test to determine the levels of lactic acid in their body. This data helps our sports scientists to analyze the race, and provide the swimmer and his coach with valuable feedback.

Is it just about data?

I have a story to write!

We understand, and no. In addition to the information gleaned from the blood sample, the testing and following warm-down process keeps the lactic acid from building up in the swimmer’s muscles thereby causing soreness, which can affect performance. This is especially key for swimmers who swim multiple events as their time between races can be extremely short. (For example, Phelps had less than 30 minutes between races at one point during the 2007 World Championships).

We haven’t forgotten you: If a swimmer has events yet to swim on the evening’s schedule, they will not stop even for a reaction quote. In this case, USA Swimming’s PR staff will make every effort to capture a reaction on digital recorder which will be shared with all interested media outlets. In addition, when a swimmer is finished racing for the night, they will still want to get to the warm-down pool within the three minutes. In this case, after a reaction quote or two, USA Swimming’s PR staff will arrange for any indemand athletes to return for additional mixed zone time or a press conference.