How to Swerve Your Swim Meet Nerves

Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

By Ashleigh Scott, Swimming World College Intern.

Wake up early, push your body to its limits, fix small details, repeat. This is the daily routine for every competitive swimmer. It is a cycle swimmers go through in order to see the best possible results come competition time.

However, oftentimes staring a swim meet directly in the eye can be intimidating and cause discomfort. Nerves can seem unavoidable and inevitable. While yes, nerves can be good, they do not have to completely take away from the equally fun atmosphere and the hard work that you, as an athlete, have put in leading up to the time of competition.

This being said, here are three easy ways to swerve your swim meet nerves.

1. Great music is key.

Photo Courtesy: Kalina DiMarco

Everyone has a song that they listen to that makes them feel instantly happy and generally lifts up their spirits. There’s something about putting in your earphones, turning up that song, and blocking out everything else around you. The lyrics and beat of that trigger song make the muscles more loose and your mind less stressed. Tuning in to music is thought to be helpful in minimizing pre-race stress, because a specific song could either remind you of a happy time in your life, or more simply, have that one beat drop that immediately gets you fired up.

Music allows swimmers to remove themselves from what may be a stressful meet environment, because at the end of the day, meets can be extremely nerve-racking. So, in order to minimize some of these nerves and channel them positively, plug in your phone the night before your meet and make sure that special song is set on repeat for the next morning!

2. Lose yourself in your team’s successes.


Photo Courtesy: Christa Weaver

It is important to step back at swim meets and realize how great it is to be part of a team with such incredible people. Everyone has high goals and works hard, so cheering each other on to reach new heights collectively makes everyone race harder for each other. Whether it be the success of one of your teammates in her 200 butterfly or the exciting cheers, there is always a reason for the team to get excited. A great way to distract yourself from the nerves brought about from the swim meet is to get lost in this excitement. Spend less time worrying about your race and more time embracing the positivity of the team!

3. Visualize your race.


Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

Visualizing your race can help manage swim meet stress. Closing your eyes and imagining your race can to picture what you are totally capable of doing and ensure you that these nerves will be put to good use. Think about your perfect race where you dive into the water, swim into the wall with a quick and efficient flip turn, and repeat this however many times, depending on the event, and round off with a powerful finish. While you close your eyes and think about this, you are allowing yourself to see all you are capable of. You have worked hard day in and day out. You have done everything right. You owe it to yourself to let this show in the pool! So close your eyes, envision the race you know you can have, allow your nerves to turn into power and dive in.

How do you manage your pre-race jitters?

-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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3 years ago

Great article! I too think the importance of being a team player at big meets is underestimated, it can really help swimmers keep things in perspective!