Why Do Swimmers Splash Themselves Before a Race?

You might have noticed that swimmers have some peculiar pre-race rituals, such as splashing themselves before a race, and have wondered why they do it. There are several reasons behind this seemingly odd habit, and each swimmer may have a unique reason for doing so.

why do swimmers splash themselves before a race

Swimmers splash themselves before a race to acclimate to the water temperature, mentally and physically prepare themselves for the sensation of diving into the pool, and prevent their suits from slipping when they dive into the water which can improve their hydrodynamics.

In this article, we will explore the various reasons why swimmers splash themselves and how it can potentially benefit their performance.

Physical Benefits of Splashing

Stimulation of Blood Flow

When you splash water on yourself, it can have a positive effect on your blood flow. The brief shock caused by the cold water stimulates an increase in blood circulation, ensuring that your muscles get the oxygen and nutrients they need to perform at their best.

This is particularly important for swimmers, as their muscles play a crucial role in propelling them through the water. So, by splashing water on your body before a swim, you’re actually helping to energize your muscles and improve your overall performance.

Wakeup Call for Muscles

As a swimmer, you want to ensure your muscles are awake and ready to perform at their peak level. Splashing water on your body can serve as a wake-up call for your muscles, as the sensation of the water can help activate your nervous system.

This slap of cold water on your skin triggers a mild shock, causing your muscles to contract and become more alert. By splashing water on your body before diving in, you’ll be able to jump-start your muscles and make sure they’re prepared for the challenge ahead.

Improved Hydrodynamics

Another important aspect to consider is hydrodynamics. Swimmers often wear specially designed suits that aim to reduce water resistance and increase their speed. Splashing water on yourself can help your suit adhere better to your skin, ensuring a more hydrodynamic shape.


Lastly, splashing water on your body can help with thermoregulation, which is the process by which your body maintains its internal temperature. When you splash cold water on yourself, you’re cooling down your skin, which can then help to regulate your core temperature.

As you swim, your body heat builds up due to the physical exertion, and regulating your temperature is important to prevent overheating or performance issues. By splashing water on your body, you are helping with this essential task and keeping your body in a more comfortable state to swim effectively.

Psychological Benefits of Splashing

Mental Preparation and Focus

Splashing water on yourself before a swim can help you mentally prepare for the race ahead. The sensation of water on your skin can bring your attention to the present moment, allowing you to focus on the task at hand.

You might find that the noise of the splashing helps establish a rhythm to your breathing, enabling you to remain calm and focused throughout the competition. This brief moment of mindfulness can be the difference between winning and losing, as even a hundredth of a second can separate swimmers.

Habit and Ritual

For some swimmers, splashing has become a part of their pre-race routine. Just like you might wear a jacket when it’s cold outside, incorporating this small action into their preparation process can make them feel more comfortable and ready for the event.

Over time, swimmers might develop a specific pattern of splashing, such as targeting their pectoral muscles or shoulders, which can provide a sense of familiarity and stability. This ritual can aid in both physical and mental recovery between races, as it signals to the body that it’s time to perform at its best.

Intimidation Tactic

Splashing can also serve as an intimidation tactic towards competitors. By visibly demonstrating your power and confidence through splashing, you might make your opponents question their abilities. A strong splash can send a message that you’re a force to be reckoned with, and that you won’t back down easily in the race.

Maintaining a fierce attitude can give you a psychological edge over your competition and further bolster your own self-assurance. Remember, while it’s essential to be friendly with your fellow swimmers, a little friendly competition never hurt anyone!