Pan Pacs Coaching Corner: Making the Most of Tough Situations

Commentary by Wayne Goldsmith

GOLD COAST, Australia, August 22. It’s a lot colder here in Australia at the 2014 Pan Pacs than many of the swimmers and coaches may have anticipated. Also, the meet is being held in a brand new outdoor pool which was built right on the Gold Coast waterfront not far for one of Australia’s most famous surf beaches. The ocean breeze is strong, cold and gusty.

The conditions are not ideal for world class swimming, but the swimmers and coaches who have prepared to win in any conditions will still do well here.

The backstrokers have had to deal with flags whipping, waving and bending in the breeze, and everyone had to wrestle with rain that was falling sideways due to the intensity of the strong winds.

It was tough going in the morning preliminaries, and it was a lot tougher in the finals in the evening.

In spite of the weather, Katie Ledecky almost broke her own world record in the 800, Emily Seebohm was under world record pace at the 50 in her 100 backstroke and there were a lot of very very fast swims by USA, Australian and Japanese swimmers.

Swimmers often make the mistake of training only when things are perfect. They’ll often complain if their home training pool is not warm enough or they might skip training if it’s too windy or if it’s rainy.

Yet, when you come to a major meet you have to be prepared to win in any conditions. No matter what gets thrown at you, you still need to rise to the challenge, swim fast and win.

In big meets, often it’s not the best swimmer who wins – it’s the best prepared swimmer – or more accurately, it’s the swimmer who has prepared to win in all conditions and in any situation who will prevail.

Next time it’s cold or rainy or windy at your home training pool, learn to love it! Learn to embrace tough conditions. Learn to thrive – not just survive – when things get rough.

Remember that when it’s tough at the meet, it’s tough for all swimmers except for those who’ve prepared to win in tough conditions.

For those swimmers who consistently train and prepare to the best of their ability in tough conditions there’s nothing they can’t do – no challenge they can’t overcome – no race they can’t win.

It was noticeable around the deck this morning that there were two types of swimmers: those whining and complaining about the conditions, how cold it was, how windy it was and how hard it would be to swim fast here; and those who were just getting on with the “business” of competitive swimming, warming up, working with their coaches and getting ready to swim fast.

Guess which swimmers came out on top????

There’s a great saying in coaching: “Ensure your training is more challenging and more demanding than the competition you are preparing for”.

Don’t make the mistake of believing that everything has to go right for you to swim fast. You’ve got to practice to win anytime, anywhere and in any conditions.

Ledecky, Cammile Adams, Connor Jaeger and all the other winners on Day 1 of the 2014 Pan Pacs showed today that talent is not enough: it’s tenacity and toughness that triumph.

Wayne Goldsmith is a coach in Australia and is a sought-after speaker at various coaching clinics around the world. He is a contributor to Swimming World Magazine.

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Author: Jeff Commings

Jeff Commings is the host of several shows on SwimmingWorld.TV, including "The Morning Swim Show," which features interviews with people making headlines in aquatic sports. He graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a degree in journalism and was a nine-time NCAA All-American.

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