How to Cool Down After Swimming

Man streaching by the pool

Sometimes the best part of a workout is winding down afterward. Warming up slowly when you get in the pool lets you ease into an intense workout, and cooling down lets you ease back out. During moderate aerobic exercise, your heart pumps faster and your circulation increases. Swimming engages all the large muscle groups in your body, and the increased demand for oxygen from your muscles makes you breathe deeper. After you finish your workout, cool down for five to 10 minutes to stretch out your body and relax all your muscles.

Swim five laps, slowing down with each consecutive distance until you swim the last one at a leisurely pace. Swim a combination of backstroke and freestyle to stretch out your back muscles and neck.

Grab a kickboard and perform two laps kicking leisurely, with, or without fins. Choose flutter kick on your stomach or back, breaststroke kick or dolphin kick.

Face the pool wall and hold onto the edge. Slowly, walk your legs up the wall until your knees are against your chest. Lower you head between your shoulders to stretch out your upper and lower back. Hold the position and then straighten out your legs letting them dangle beneath you. Repeat the move again.

Stand on the perimeter ledge of a deep pool, or on the bottom of a shallow pool. Stand up on your toes and then return to a neutral foot position. Repeat the motion to stretch out your calf muscles and your feet. You swim with your feet in a flexed position, so this exercise helps you avoid foot cramps after workouts.

Get out of the pool and do a gentle streamline stretch on deck. Streamline means you extend your arms straight above your head, elbows pressed against your ears. Cross your elbows behind your head and then rotate at the waist to the left and then to the right.

Take a warm shower if available and wash off any chlorine on your skin and hair.


Dry-land exercises, or those out of the pool can tire your muscles and lead to injury if you perform them prior to an intense workout. Schedule time in the gym separately from your swimming routine and avoid stressing already-taxed muscles.


Check with your coach before stretching if you experience any pain or stiffness during or after workouts.