Whether you are new to the triathlon sport and/or swimming itself or you’re a seasoned athlete, what you change into and best practices for after a swim practice are the same.
So, what should you change into and do after swim practice? After swim practice, you want to clean, dry, and moisturize your skin, put on warm clothes that also provide loose layers, and refuel as well as recover properly.
Let’s dive into each of those areas so you can make informed decisions and train safe + smart.
What To Wear To Stay Warm After Swimming?
In short, one would want to wear warm, loose layers, but does not want to warm the body up too quickly. While swimming the body shuts down circulation to the skin which in turn causes warm blood to pool in the core. So, after swimming, one would want to warm up slowly while not allowing wet skin to be exposed for too long.
A way to stay warm and reduce exposure of wet skin to air between the water and your changing area is with a Swim Parka (Source). Once you’ve made it to your changing area and you’ve rinsed off your skin with cool to cold water (warm to hot water can rewarm the body too quickly, an effect known as afterdrop (Source), and potentially cause adverse effects) as well as dried off, you want to put on those warm, loose layers.
For loose layers, think base layer followed by a middle layer and outer layer. Your base layer could be something like longjohns. Your middle layer would be something that fits comfortably over the base layer and is mid to lightweight material. Your outer layer will be your thickest and heaviest material/layer. For this outer layer think soft and fluffy.
When re-dressing it is recommended to put on socks first to reduce the heat loss through your feet (soft and fluffy for your socks and hat are the best option for maximal warmth). Next, you want to cover your head and torso. The last thing to cover is your lower body. (Source A, Source B & Source C)
Check the video below for more on after drop post-swim,
What To Apply On Skin After Swimming?
Now that you know you want to put on warm, loose layers after swim practice, you’re probably wondering is there anything I should put on my skin before those warm layers?
After swimming/coming out of the water (and, of course, drying off), one would want to moisturize, moisturize, moisturize. Once you come out of the water, whether from an open water or pool swim, you want to rinse off that water to help protect your skin and keep it healthy. As mentioned earlier, you want to use cool to cold water for this so that you reduce the chances of warming up too quickly.
After you rinse off, you want to dry off thoroughly (preferably with a cotton or natural fiber towel). Once your skin is dry and before putting on those warm layers, you want to moisturize.
A simple google search proves there are many options when it comes to skincare for swimmers. One brand in particular that came up repeatedly was Trihard- you can check out their products here.
On a side note, do not waste your money on useless gear purchases and check out my Best Triathlon Battle-Tested Budgeting Gear
In the end, you’ll need to do some research for your needs and preferences to find suitable products. Once you find the appropriate products for you, pick your favorite(s), and start slathering on the moisture! (Then, put on those warm layers!) (Source)
Here is a video for more on how to deal with your skin when swimming,
Also, check out our post on Why Do Your Nipples Hurt After Swimming? How To Deal With It!
Why Do I Feel Like I’m Floating After Swimming?
The floating sensation is formally known as Mal de Embarquement (MdD) – ‘sickness of disembarking’.It generally occurs after an intense motion experience which often includes rolling or side-to-side tilting of the head. This disrupts the vestibular system. The disruption to the vestibular system causes the body’s equilibrium to be off/brain to compensate for movement that is not there.
Some get it and some don’t. The reason for this is unknown. (Source)
Another cause of disruption to the vestibular system is water in the ear (hence the term “swimmer’s ear”). This floating sensation (or MdD) is sometimes more commonly known as vertigo. And, it’s a very mild form of motion sickness. (Source)
What To Do After Swimming Training Session?
Now that you have figured out what to put on your skin and what to change into after swim practice as well as why you feel like you’re floating after swimming, you’re probably wondering what to do in general after swim practice.
After swim practice, you want to refuel your body, take part in active recovery, sleep, hydrate, and partake in a sports massage (if tolerable and feasible).
You want to enjoy a post-workout snack within 30 minutes of moderate to vigorous training. And, ideally, you want to consume 200-300 calories with a Carbohydrate to Protein ratio of 3:1.
2. Active Recovery
Your active recovery can double as your proper cool down, be your workout for the next day, and/or a combination thereof. Some options for active recovery activities include light constant swimming, yoga (stretching), pilates, walking, and/or a gentle strength class/routine.
Post swim practice you want to aim for 7 to 8 hours of sleep at a minimum.
Water, water, water! Or, a good electrolyte drink (think less sugary like Pedialyte vs the typical sports drinks or, better yet, make your own).
5. Sports Massage
Another great practice for post-swim practice is a sports massage. You can go to a local massage establishment in your area or sometimes chiropractors will offer it as a service. If a professional massage is not for you, you can try foam rolling which is a form of self-massage. For a more intense self-massage, you can use a lacrosse or tennis ball. (Source)