3 Pre-Season Musts: Rethink, Plan, and Refresh

Photo Courtesy: Trey Kolleck

By Alexander Hardwick, Swimming World Intern

August– it marks the end of one season, and the beginning of the next. Most swimmers transition from long course meters back to short course yards or meters.

Depending on the swimmer, the summer swim season has a different meaning for everyone. Some swimmers train hard and shave and taper for an end-of-summer championship style meet. While others may take a laid back approach and pursue interests outside of the pool during the summer months. All swimmers train and compete differently, and have different goals in the pool. Therefore, each individual swimmer is unique in their approach.

No matter what kind of swimmer you are, here are three things to think about before diving back into the pool following your summer swimming season…

1. Rethink


Photo Courtesy: Brian Cook (Rochester Mayo Girl’s 200yd Freestyle Relay at Minnesota Sectionals)

The best way to prepare for a new swim season is to remember what worked the in the past swimming seasons. Every time you swim, whether it be a practice or a meet, you gain experience! Each year, you should revisit those practices and swim meet thoughts before embarking on a new season.

One way to do this is to make a list of the top five things you learned in the past season. It could be little stroke technique changes, tips on how to swim a certain race, practice habits, what not to eat before you race, etc.  Keep this list with you throughout the year, so you can build off what you learned. If you do this season after season, you will build a strong swimming experience without forgetting the most important lessons learned.

On the same sheet of paper, write your best three races and your worst three races of the season. Make note of what made them either good or bad. This will make you more knowledgeable going into those races next season.

Just because it is a bad swim doesn’t mean it was a bad experience. Often the worst swims give you the most feedback. If a championship swim didn’t go well maybe you look at your rest, eating habits, training, technique, fitness, nerves or anything you find important to your swimming success.

For your great swims, you will want to note what made them so great. This will hopefully give you the ability to recreate the dream race for seasons to come.

The list is meant for you recall what was accomplished in your season and build upon lessons learned to become a better swimmer.

2. Plan


Photo Courtesy: Kike Afolabi-Brown (John Copses 200yd Breaststroke at 2015 UAA Championship)

Before entering a season, you should always plan some goals for the next season. The goal can be anything that will help you train and keep a positive mental attitude. It should be clear with very little ambiguity, so that you know the exact direction you are heading.

A goal should never be something that scares you. It should be something to think about while your swimming, and be a reminder of why you are working as hard as you are.

When you set up a goal you should have a plan of action.

For instance if your goal is to get an ‘A’ time in your 13-14 age group. Your plan should have what event you want to get it in and the time needed to obtain that goal. Time goals are preferred over place goals. A time is a precise goal.

If you wan to go 5:25.00 in your 500, you can train pace for it and know that if you hold under a 1:05 100 pace you will achieve your goal. If you goal is to finish in the top three at you local Junior Olympics, you can’t control who will swim it and the time they will swim it in. Time goals are controllable, where as place goals are dependent on the performance of others.

Not all goals have to be a time and/or a place; you can have daily goals or practicing goals. If you came to five of the eight practices a week this past season, maybe this year a goal is to show up to six or seven. It could also be making all of the intervals in the practice or not missing a single yard of the workouts you attend.

Whatever your goal is, STICK TO IT!  You have to believe you will obtain so set it high and go after it!

3. Refresh

Photo Courtesy: Deb Kowalsky

Photo Courtesy: Deb Kowalsky (Mitchell Cooper 400 Individual Medley at 2014 Miami Invitational)

Each season takes a toll on your body, both mentally and physically. Before embarking on another season, take time to distress and let swimming go. Often after a big meet, you get an urge to jump right back in the day after and start training for next season. Although this is a good sign for next season, your body needs time to rebound (even for a couple days) from the hard work it has put in for months on end. Therefore, take a step back and relax.

Whether it be a couple days or a couple weeks, try to enjoy things you haven’t been able to while training. It could be as simple as sleeping in, to going to the water park with friends and staying up late.

Remove yourself from the intense swimming lifestyle for a little to come back to training, refreshed and ready to go. It will help keep your mental game sharp, and your physical body renewed and ready!

Rethink, plan, and refresh before the upcoming season!!! GOOD LUCK!


Photo Courtesy: NCAA Photography (Chandler Lichtefeld 200yd Breaststroke at 2015 Division 3 NCAA Championships)

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