Commentary by Norah Hunt, Swimming World College Intern.
As the conference and championship season rolls around, many swimmers start to experience a rush of nerves that is annoying at best and detrimental to performance at worst. Despite putting in months and months of hard work, some athletes begin to doubt their training, their coaches, and even themselves. They freak out and stress so much that by the time the meet rolls around, they are burned out and completely lacking confidence.
Simply put, don’t let this swimmer be you. Here are four things to keep in mind as you head into the championship season:
The work is already done.
As happy or sad as it makes you feel, the season is mostly over. All the hard doubles and early mornings have passed, the grueling dual meets are finished, Christmas training is a distant memory, and the hard aerobic work of the year is basically done. There will still certainly be some tough sets and some strenuous days and sore muscles, but the bulk of the work is in the past. You have already done everything you need to swim fast; you have already put the money in the bank, now all that is left is the actual race.
This feeling of completion should give you confidence. You showed up every day and gave every workout all that you had, and there is no reason you should doubt your training now. You put in the work, it was enough, and now is the time to simply go out and swim the same way you have been swimming for the whole season.
You have already conquered adversity.
Chances are, there was something this season that you probably had to overcome. Whether it was an injury, illness, bad mental health, a bad week of practice, a fight with a family member or friend, a bad grade on a test, or something else altogether, the fact that you are still swimming and still fighting to reach your goals says a lot about the character you possess. Use the adversity to give you confidence, and remind yourself that you have already conquered far more than anything this meet can throw at you.
The worst you can do is fail.
Yes, I said it. Because, in the grand scheme of things, failing at one swim meet, out of the hundreds you will go to throughout your life, is not that big of a deal. Yes, it will be disappointing. But, the season is not a waste. You still grew as an athlete and as a person, you still learned how to manage your time and how to fight through challenges. You still were able to spend time with your teammates, the incredible people that still love you regardless of whether they see you at 5 p.m. or 5 a.m. The season was still a success, regardless of whatever time the scoreboard says at the end. No matter what, the sun will still rise the next day.
The memories have already been made.
I like to think that there comes a time in every young swimmer’s career, when they are 11 or 12, where they think to themselves “I kind of want to quit. But, I like my teammates. If I quit I won’t be able to see them as much. So, I guess I will stay around.” Even from the beginning, these people that you spend day in and day out with help to critically define what the sport is for you. Now, they play an even greater role. Because swimming, despite the common misconception that suggests otherwise, is a team sport.
As things come to a close, think back on all the team dinners, all the movie days, all the early mornings and all the late nights. You already have so many memories with these people, and those memories will not be affected or altered by a time on a scoreboard.
As the hustle and bustle of the championship season rolls around, remember to stop and take a breath sometimes. These meets will be super fun, and at times super stressful, but you have nothing to lose. Everything has already been won.
All commentaries are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Swimming World Magazine nor its staff.