Tommy Cope how to get back into swimming shape

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The First Splash: Getting Back in the Water

Are you ready to get back into swimming shape? After what feels like years, the pools are starting to open! Finally, we can get back into the water. However, you might be a little bit nervous, thinking about how out of shape you felt after three days of not swimming… what’s five months going to feel like!

Not to worry, you are not alone in this journey training through Covid-19! Athlete Approved is right there with you, and we’ve got some great tips to help that transition to get back into swimming shape go smoothly.

5 tips to get back into swimming shape by Athlete Approved Ambassador Tommy Cope:

  1. You need to start somewhere.
  2. Understand it will feel weird and you are not alone in this process.
  3. Take it slowly.
  4. Start forming a new habit.
  5. Incorporate new ideas into workout.

Start by getting in the water. You need to start somewhere. It can be 5,000 yards, 1,000 yards or even 100 yards. Sometimes you just need to get your suit on, get in the water, and make it happen.

It’s Going to Feel Weird

Under normal circumstances, there’s no way that you would not swim for weeks, not to mention months. During a long lay off, you are going to lose some feel for the water. You are not alone in this process.

You probably lost a little bit of that hard-earned muscle. It’s just natural, and this is nothing to worry about. It’s hard to get past this point, but if you can accept that it’s part of the process, you’ll get back into swimming shape a lot faster.

It may take some longer than others to get back into the rhythm, but eventually you’ll get back. I didn’t swim for nearly five months, and after two weeks it is starting to feel natural again, but I still have some work to do!

Consistency is key, so make sure you don’t get discouraged by that first day back.

Tommy Cope how to get back into swimming shape
Author Tommy Cope
Credit: Michigan Photography

Take it Slowly

You might feel a little anxious and want to get back to your old training level right away. Be careful though, because you’re not as in shape as you used to be. This can easily lead to injuries, especially with your shoulders.

Warming up properly is key to building back into training. To prevent injuries there are a few precautions to take.

Do active stretching and dryland exercises to loosen up before you swim.

After you swim, stretch more and do soft tissue massage. We recommend the Athlete Approved recovery gear like the TriggerPoint GRID Foam Roller and Tiger Tail Tiger Ball.

When you rebuild your shoulder muscles and your technique, you’ll be able to push the yardage again. 

Athlete Approved Tip: Don’t forget to hydrate! Though you’re surrounded by water, you’re still sweating, and need to replenish fluids and electrolytes.

Tommy Cope Celebration
Author Tommy Cope
Credit: Michigan Photography

Start Something New

We all have something that we’ve been thinking about wanting to try, whether improving one of your strokes or making a good, out-of-the-pool habit. Now is a great time to start that, while you have the time to think about what you want to work on.

It’s been shown that it takes about two months to form an automatic habit, so by starting now, you’ll be ready just in time for the fall season.

Personally, I’ve been working on improving my freestyle catch and maintaining a high elbow. To do this, I try to do at least 100 yards of sculling every practice. The Iso Paddle (follow link for a 20% discount) will help increase your “feel for the water” and work your high elbow pull.

Finis Swimming

Athlete Approved Tip: A high elbow pull on freestyle not only helps your power, it’s also necessary to prevent injury. Dropping your elbow right before your catch often leads to shoulder problems, which none of us want.

Ideas for your Next Swim Practice

If you’re swimming on your own and need to create your own workout, here are the top 3 things to incorporate:

  • Kicking – it’s important to build a strong base with you legs. The DMC Swim Fins build strength quicker.
  • Sculling – helpful to give you a feel for the water again. Try sculling with the Finis Iso Paddle.
  • Rate variation – mixing sprints with long swims can get you into shape faster, similar to interval training.

My first workout back, totaling 2,700 yards:

  • Warm Up
    • 400 Freestyle
    • 300 Kick
    • 300 – 75 Back/25 free
    • 100 Scull
  • Preset
    • 6 x 100 Odds kick, evens free
  • Main Set
    • 3 x 300 – 25 Fast/75 easy
  • Cool Down
    • 100 Easy

Work hard, and don’t get discouraged when getting back into swimming shape! See you at the next meet!

About Author Tommy Cope

Tommy Cope
Credit: Michigan Photography

Tommy is a graduate of the University of Michigan, where he specialized in breaststroke and IM events. He was the team captain his senior year.

He is an All-American in the 100 and 200 breaststroke, the 200 and 400 IM, and the 400 and 800 free relay. Tommy is also the Michigan school record holder in the 200 yard breaststroke. He is currently continuing his training at Michigan, with his eyes set on Tokyo. 

Beyond swimming, Tommy is pursuing a master’s degree in Electrical and Computer Engineering from The University of Michigan. He was named recipient of the 2020 Big Ten Medal of Honor, which is awarded to one male and one female athlete at The University of Michigan demonstrating excellence on and off the field.

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