The first reason swimmers slap themselves is to warm up. By hitting themselves on the body, they increase circulation in the body, helping them to enter the water more easily. Olympic medalist Michael Phelps started a worldwide craze by slapping his back before his races.
Many swimmers also do it to stretch before events, as cold muscles can cause stiffness during a race.
According to Matt Barbini, USA Swimming’s director of performance, it increases the blood flow in the muscles. The action also supports the warm-up process and allows them to enter the pool with ease.
This also helps them achieve their training goals. You might not even notice it, but slapping is a good way to start a swim race.
Some Olympic swimmers even slap themselves red before their races. This is a warm-up method designed to get blood flowing. It’s a ritual part of the pre-race ritual.
But if you’re a professional swimmer, don’t slap yourself before a race! Those who do it are more likely to win a gold medal. If you’re a professional, you probably don’t want to do it in front of your audience, as it might be embarrassing.
A third reason to slap yourself is to warm up before a competition. The goal of this is to get blood flowing to your muscles and get your body ready for a race.
“Slapping yourself is like getting a massage,” says Matt Barbini, director of performance for USA Swimming. When your muscles are warm, they’re more relaxed, and you’re less likely to cramp.