4 Things To Do When You Don’t Drop Time

Emily Seebohm
Photo Courtesy: Swimming Australia

By Tori Caudill, Swimming World College Intern

One of the best parts of swimming is competing. For many swimmers this competition can become more intense over time, just as anything else that you devote this much of your life to. As an 8 and under, dropping time was always easy, as long as no DQ was involved. As an age-group swimmer, some days of watching your friends have good races and meets can be gut-wrenching. And in college, watching your training partner swim well while you’re stuck in a rut can seem like the end of your career. Over the years dropping time gets harder and harder; swimming becomes more frustrating and more upsetting, and can drive us to want to hang up the goggles.

However, there are many ways to keep from falling apart after a rough race, or even a trying swim meet without having to resort to quitting a sport you’ve devoted what seems like your entire life to.

1. Keep some perspective.

Photo Courtesy: Swimming Canada/Scott Grant

Photo Courtesy: Swimming Canada/Scott Grant

Take a deep breath. Not everyone can drop time in every event, or even every weekend. The years of almost weekly competition and year-round swimming has taken a toll on you mentally more than any swimmer can fully comprehend. Realistically, there are barriers that just cannot be broken. Keeping that in mind will save you a lot of pain and drama. There will always be another race to swim and meet to compete in. One rough patch doesn’t define your entire swimming career.

2. It’s OK to be upset.

Just because things can’t always go right, that doesn’t mean you have to hold it together after a race doesn’t go your way. It’s OK to be frustrated about your race. It’s OK to think that you should have done better. Being upset about things is a part of being human, and an even larger part of being an athlete. As a rule, athletes are harder on themselves than anyone outside of the sports world would know. Sometimes, being upset can be the best fuel for a rebuilding period.

3. Venting is normal.

gaac-teammates-2016-cerave-invite

Photo Courtesy: Taylor Brien

Your teammates know better than anyone what you are going through. No one understands a dry spell like a teammate who has experienced the same thing. Keeping them as your support system when you feel down is a large part of how the swimming family operates. They will always be there to have your back, talk times, or just give you advice on what to do. No one can help you out of the black hole of swim-pression that comes with not being on top of your game.

4. Rise above.

Staring the enemy of a dry spell directly in the face can be horrifying, but nothing can stamp out an enemy like hard work. Staying in the pool and keeping your eye on the prize is the best way to get out of this funk. Try some new drills. Focus on technique instead of speed for a change. Going back to the basics can not only revitalize your love of swimming but also get you back in the right mindset for keeping you on the right track.

Even after the longest time, when dropping time seems impossible, out of nowhere, a best time has a way of sneaking in and repairing all of your doubts about swimming. The most important thing to remember is that no one can take away your previous success, even if a best time doesn’t find it’s way to you. After all the time that you have devoted to swimming, just keep fighting through the hard times. All of the same things that you loved about swimming will come rushing back to you after the slightest reminder. So keep working, keep the faith, and more importantly, keep swimming.

18 comments

  1. Todd Fonck

    Shared this with my college roomie, who coaches girls cross country and track. Sports are very similar and it definitely applies to running as well.

  2. Eric B Godsman

    Technique tips here from coach Eric B Godsman … usaswimming.net

  3. Jen Thompson

    Good article. Sharing with my daughter

  4. Kristie Wisniewski

    My kids are young but one swam his best times the first meet and didn’t drop again until the last meet of the season.

  5. Kristi L Brewer

    So you don’t fro time. Crapppp!!! But can we please shake hands over the lane lines?

    • Geoff Wood

      Exactly what I ask my swimmers to do after every race; 1st or last. Makes no difference. Unfortunately, so many just get a glazed look from the person they offer the hand to ?

  6. Mark Moffatt

    Interesting article Vanessa Moffatt.