5 Ways to Make It Through the Mid-Season Grind


By Molly Lloyd, Swimming World College Intern

For us college kids, with the end of the semester and finals upon us, the swimming and diving season is reaching its midpoint and that can only mean one thing: the mid-season grind. Things aren’t so new anymore – the excitement of a new season and the opportunity to swim with new people has died down and part of you feels stuck. There aren’t any big, career defining meets coming up and you can’t help but feel stagnant. Maybe your times and scores have plateaued, or you’re just feeling tired and fatigued during practice. Maybe you’re ready to go home for break and just take some time off.

Regardless of what you’re feeling, you need to make it through this physically and mentally tough part of the season; so what can you do to keep yourself going?

1. Talk to your coach.


Photo Courtesy: Doug Keller

Your coach is there to help you in any way they can. They always have been and always will be your biggest critic, but also your biggest fan, and they care about how you’re feeling and performing. Tell your coach how you’re feeling before practice starts. Ask your coach what you can do to better improve your stroke, how you can improve your times, or even just how you can better motivate yourself in the pool or on the boards. They will be happy to help you and see you improve.

2. Rely on your teammates.

There’s no one in your life that understands your sport better than your teammates. They’ve been with you through all the up and all the downs and will understand how you’re feeling, which can be helpful when you need to talk. They’re there to encourage you and keep you motivated, and can always give you something to look forward to about practice if swimming feels too daunting; there is always at least one person at practice to cheer you up and get you amped up. Play games during practice and between sets, challenge each other to see who can make the interval first, or challenge them to do something new on the boards. Make practice fun with your teammates. Afterwards, you know they’ll be there to pat you on the back or give you a well deserved and long needed hug.

3. Think about past meets, future meets, and set goals.

Times photo by SALLY MAXSON WPIAL swimming championships at the University of Pittsburgh Thursday. Lead swimmers dive into the water at the start of the boys 200 freestyle relay.

Photo Courtesy: Sally Maxson

When you’re feeling stuck and unmotivated, setting goals for yourself gives you something to look forward to. Even the smallest goals can help. Think about the meets that you’ve had in the past and consider what went well and what didn’t – maybe it was a bad start or poor under waters, maybe you let your head drop in your front double or you didn’t point your toes on the entry; use the mistakes you made in the past to set yourself up for success in the future.

Think about the meets you have coming up and set goals for yourself regarding where you want to be by that point. Set goals for the small dual meet coming up in three weeks and set goals for your conference meet, or even nationals. No goal is too small, so feel free to set goals for yourself on a practice by practice basis. Tell yourself what it is you hope to improve on that day in practice and do it. It will help you feel more focused and in control of what you’re doing and of the outcome of that day’s practice.

4. Take care of your mind and body.

Practice is the time for you to focus on practice and nothing else – leave all the stressors of your academic and social life outside the pool. Practice is your time to decompress, to let your mind take a break from all the work you’ve been doing out of the water, let it be your break from reality. Let practice be fun and challenging for you, don’t let it stress you out too much.

Along with taking care of your mind, take care of your body. This is the time of year where it’s easy to forget to eat and where late nights or all-nighters are common; your workouts will suffer if you don’t sleep or eat. Push yourself during practice, but be sure to take care of yourself afterwards. Ice and ibuprofen are your friends. Taking care of your body will help you feel better about your abilities during practice.

5. Remember why you started swimming or diving.

TualitinHillsTeam Cheering on Blaise Wittenauer-Lee(winner)200BreastFinal

Photo Courtesy: Nicholas McMillan

Sometimes we get so entrenched in our daily lives and in the constant practices and workouts that we forget why we got involved in this sport in the first place. During these times, take a step back and focus yourself. You started swimming when you were a little kid because you loved the water; you loved the exhilaration of trying your best and going as fast as you could and seeing where that would get you. Sure, you loved winning, but more than anything, you loved participating. You started diving because you loved the rush; flipping and twisting and somehow landing safely in the water was so impressive to you. Sure, you thought you looked pretty cool while doing it, but it was seeing how much you could achieve that really drove you. When the mid-season grind hits you, return to your roots and try to love your sport for what it is.