Rest is equally as important as training
The key aspect in performing well during competition is to get as much rest as you can a week before the big meet. That is also why coaches give their swimmers more sleep in sessions instead of training. However, that doesn’t mean that you can sleep late and wake up late as that would in turn mess your body clock up which is actually worse than waking up for training.
If you stick to your usual sleep cycles, you’ll feel super alert during the week of the big meet, so just try it 🙂
Avoid any last minute training
When it’s time to rest, it is time to rest. The truth is, there is really nothing you can do now in training that can change the outcome of the competition. Worrying is normal, but sometimes you just have to learn to let it go and let your body recover properly for the competition instead of trying for some last minute hard work, because that would actually have a negative impact on your body.
You’ve put in a great amount of hard work leading up to the competition, so learn to trust yourself and trust your coach that you’ll do well when the big day comes.
Focus on the process and not the outcome
Everyone wants the gold medal, but instead of focusing on the prize, you should all learn about the steps to getting the price, because it’s the baby steps that will get you to your goal.
An example would be in a 200m race, plan on:
– How you are going to swim each 50m
– How you wish to feel in the water on the day of your competition
– How many strokes you want to take per 50m
– Key things to look out for in the race (e.g. good dives, good turns, good breakouts, good finishes)
Things like these should all be well planned out a week before the meet so that when the race comes, we’ll be in autopilot mode and your body will be able to take over without your mind over thinking too much.
As mentioned above, once you have a process goal in mind, it’s time to start visualizing about your race. Visualization should also be done a week before the big meet so that when the real meet comes, you’ll know exactly what to do and everything will go according to plan.
Everything going to plan = Less to worry about
Control the controllable, ignore the uncontrollable
Our focus and visualization should be centered only around ourselves, because that’s the only thing that we can control. Avoid thinking about how our competitors will race, the weather on that day, or the pool temperature because we can’t control these things therefore they’re irrelevant to our visualization.
We should just focus on our race plan, having a good nights’ sleep, and taking good care of ourselves.
Stop the negativity; Let it go and have fun
As a swimmer, I’ve always had the tendency to focus on all the negative things that may happen during race day. Things like goggles filling up with water, having cramps, screwing my race plan up, and the list goes on and on… It’s normal to worry about things like these especially when you really want to have the perfect race.
However, having thoughts like these are actually slowing you down, so how do we get rid of them? Personally, I still have these thoughts in my mind, but it gets better through experience.
Over the years of my swimming career, I’ve came to the realization that during a big meet, it’s not about having the “perfect” race, because “perfect” doesn’t exist, there will always be something wrong on that day, so learn to let go, have fun, and stop focusing on trying to be perfect. All you have to do is to just swim your heart out and you’ll realize that you’ll be in a much relaxed state of mind and you’ll still be able to perform.
If you’re still having negative thoughts, here’s a solution for you. We were having a team meeting the other day and what Coach Sergio said really inspired me.
“So what will happen if we all don’t do well in the competition?”
There was complete silence.
“Nobody knows? Really?”
“Exactly, nothing will happen if we don’t do well. We can all cry about the bad race for about 5 minutes, and we’ll move on from it. When the next day comes, we’ll all be ready to get into the pool, and start working our hearts out again. Nothing changes.”
So why are we so afraid of failing? Swimming is a really long career, so one setback doesn’t mean it’s the end of the world. We’ll learn from each setback and get back up stronger for the next competition. Setbacks are normal and it will motivate us to come back stronger in our next race, so don’t be afraid to fail.
I hope these tips can help you guys in the upcoming Singapore National Age Group Swimming Championships in 2 weeks time! Swim your heart out and I’m sure that you guys will do well. Best of luck to everyone, remember to have fun! 🙂
All photos were taken by Adrian Seetho, check out more of his amazing work here:
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