Dealing with competition stress

swimfast aquatic club

Singapore Open is next week and I’m pretty sure many of us are stressed out as the stakes of this coming meet is pretty high! Some of us will be using this meet to qualify for the 2015 SEA Games in Singapore and the 2015 World Swimming Championships.

Anyway, for those who are freaking out really bad, I hope these tips will help you cope with the competition stress! I use them myself. 🙂


Trust yourself

The key to doing well in competitions is actually really simple; you just have to trust yourself. I know it’s easier said that done. But you just have to believe that you’ve trained to the best of your ability, and since you can’t change anything now, just have faith in yourself and do your best!

You have to keep giving yourself positive reinforcements like

“My body feels great.”

“I slept well last night.”

“My water feel is the best I can ever feel.”

Remember, positive reinforcements go a long way so stay positive! Everything will go smoothly if you trust your own abilities.


Trust your coach

russell ong gary tan quah ting wen teo zhen ren pang sheng jun marina chan swimmer

Your coach can have a training program that suits you best, but if you don’t trust him/her, then it will not work out. You have to learn to trust that your coach has put his heart and soul into you so you just have to go with the flow and do your best!

I know for sure that Coach Gary and Richard’s program has suited me so I’m ready to race well this coming Singapore Open. 🙂 So you have to have faith in your coach too!


You are your biggest enemy 

pang sheng jun dive

“The principle is competing against yourself. It’s about self-improvement, about being better than you were the day before.” 

My previous psychologist reminded me constantly that in swimming is NOT a contact sport. You are in control of your own lane, all you have to do is to care about YOURSELF. Your competitors are not allowed to distract you in your lane so ultimately, you just have to swim against yourself, against your personal best.

So always remember, your lane is your stage; compete against yourself, not others. Trust me, doing your personal best beats touching the wall first but doing a lousy time. So just worry about yourself, and your race, because that is something that is within your control, and nobody can take that away from you!

So screw the guy beside you, you are your biggest enemy, so beat yourself.


Let your body take over

pang sheng jun underwater

During a race, stop thinking too much about stroke count, number of breaths to take, or how hard you should kick your legs – all these should already have been well thought out during your training sessions.

During your race, it’s all about letting your body take over, every stroke you take, every breath you take, it should all be on auto pilot by now, don’t over think, just let your body take control, because that’s when amazing things happen.


Confidence is the key to success

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Those weeks of training when others are asleep, beating the snooze button just to go those extra laps in the pool. Why do we do that? So that we can do well when race day comes. So if you’ve put in all the hard work that you need, why worry? You should be confident of your abilities by now.

Like what Coach Gary always says, “The coach will always train the swimmer to the best of their abilities, ultimately, it’s up to the swimmer to be confident and perform.”

So be confident, that is the key to your race success.


Eat healthy 

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You may want to avoid all the fried/spicy food about 2 weeks before competition as those type of foods may give you a stomach upset, something which you really want to avoid during race day.

Take food which are high in Carbohydrates and Protein and low in fat. Those foods will give you the energy you need for race day.

Think about this, resist the temptation of unhealthy food for just 2 WEEKS so that your MONTHS of hard work will pay off, it’s definitely worth it.


Sleep early 

sleep early

Remember to sleep early the night before your race. I know some of you may feel a little too anxious or nervous to sleep. (I’ve had my own experiences before) But here are some tips that will help you fall asleep:

1) Make sure that electronic devices are far away from your reach (The temptation to use your phone will be strong)

In our generation we’re all addicted to social media, I’ve had times whereby I surf the net and watch Youtube videos until like 1am and end up feeling lethargic the next day. Remove all electronic devices from your bed side table or room if it distracts you. I just switch my phone to airplane mode so I wouldn’t have the urge to check it when I can’t sleep.

2) Move your clock away from your view (This will prevent you from constantly checking the time)

I always end up looking at the time the day before the race and it stresses me out even more when I see that I’m getting lesser sleep by the minute, so I decided to just move my clock away.

3) Don’t think about swimming AT ALL. 

I kinda figured that every time I tried to visualize my race before bed I end up having an insane amount of increase in heart rate due to the surge of adrenaline when I think of my race. So what you should do is to forget that you’re actually a swimmer, and just ignore anything that has got to do with swimming, because that will make you too excited to swim.

4) There’s nothing you can do to make you swim better for tomorrow 

Remember this: There’s NOTHING you can do that will make you swim better for tomorrow besides sleep. That extra visualization will only make you more nervous so don’t think about your race! I’m sure that you’ve done 100x of that distance you’re going to race so your body is already tuned up for that race, you don’t actually have to have a conscious thought about it. All you have to do is to think about how comfortable your bed is and how nicely your body sinks into your comfortable bed so it’s time to sleep!

Always keep in mind that your body is ready, it just needs to rest, screw the visualizations because they don’t work. Rest, rest, and rest.

5) Take deep breaths if you can’t relax

Taking deep breaths helps relax your body when you feel a little uptight. What helps me even more is that after every deep breath I take, I exhale with my mind saying “relax…” it does help a lot that way. 🙂

6) Still can’t sleep? 

If you find that you can’t sleep after doing these steps, you probably have already slept enough for the past few days so don’t worry too much, you just have to stay positive and know you’re ready for the race, because if you have slept well the past few nights, one night of bad sleep won’t matter! I’ve personally done best times even with bad sleep the night before, so just trust yourself. 🙂


Have fun! 

Last but not least, the key element to competing well is to have fun! You’ve put in all the hard work you need so don’t stress yourself out too much, just be natural and have fun during the competition. Trust me, you’ll do better that way. 🙂

team sac

Just wanna take this opportunity to wish all swimmers all the best for Singapore Open next week! I’m sure all of your hard work will pay off.
Last but not least, LETS GO TEAM SAC!


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