4 Ways to Prepare for Conference Championships Early

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Photo Courtesy: Annie Grevers

By Mark McCluskey, Swimming World College Intern

While it may seem a bit early to be thinking about conference championships and the end of the season, it really is right around the corner. At this time, most teams’ championship meets are about a month away. While you may feeling a bit burnt out from months of grueling training, now is not the time to lose focus. The month of January is possibly the most important month of training, as this is the work that you will be tapering from once taper rolls around. Here are four ways to prepare for conference championships early.

1. Continue the Momentum From Training Trip

W&M Training Trip FAU Pool

Photo Courtesy: Chris Balbo

After all of the grinding on training trip, a lot of people have trouble returning to school and keeping up the work. They may say to themselves, “Well, I just got done with those practices, so now it’s time to relax.” This is the opposite of what you should be saying to yourself. Rather, now is the time to continue that energy once you have returned to campus. If you decide to take it easy for the last few weeks of training, all of the work you put in over training trip will be for nothing. While it is really hard to do, it is so important to hold on to the focus and determination that you used during your trip.

2. Focus on Problem Areas

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Photo Courtesy: Matt Rubel of Rubel Photography

Flip turns and starts are possibly the most key aspects of a race. The starting half of the season is all about figuring out what you need to work on this season. In your first couple of meets, you may miss a flip turn or two or get off the block really slowly in the 50 free. Once you realize where your weak points are in your race (it may not even be the starts and turns – it could be something else), it is essential that you take the time to fix these issues before conference. You do not want to make the same mistake twice, especially not at the biggest meet of the year. If you do not feel like you are getting enough time in practice to work on the details of your finish, stay after practice for an extra ten or fifteen minutes to hone those specific skills that you need to work on. You will be glad you were a little late for dinner once meet day rolls around.

3. Don’t Psych Yourself Out

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Photo Courtesy: Nick Peck

A lot of swimmers deal with nerves, especially prior to big meets such as the conference championships. One mental mistake that people tend to make is viewing the final meet of the year a much “bigger thing” than it really is. While everybody wants to go a best time at conference, some people feel as though they need to meet their goals or else their entire season was a waste. If this sounds like your mindset, you need to throw that mentality out of the window immediately. This is just a swim meet, and you are just a competitor. The results of your conference meet are not going to have any major effect on your life outside of the pool. If you come up short, the season has not been a waste. You still worked hard, became a better person, and had a fun season with your teammates. Meeting your goals is only a part of what your season really is.

4. Take Care of Your Body

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Photo Courtesy: Pexels

One of the worst things that can happen after a year of training and preparing for conference is getting sidelined for something that could have been preventable. January is one of the coldest months of the year, so be sure to take the time to prevent illness. Take vitamins (being careful to check the banned substance list) to keep your immune system strong, eat a variety of nutritious meals, and get as much sleep as you can. Not only would missing the conference championships be bad, but also missing a week of practice from sickness is just as detrimental to your performance. Also, avoid recklessness. Do not take the time to try out an extreme sport or activity when you have just a few weeks until the biggest meet of the year. That is how a broken arm happens: that is what the off-season is for.

While it can be really challenging to stay focused towards the end of the season, it is so important that you stay on your game throughout the month of January. If you begin to slack right before the end, you most likely will not be able to perform at your best at conference. Don’t waste an ounce of your hard work this season – finish strong.

All commentaries are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Swimming World Magazine nor its staff.

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