12 Pump Up Songs that Make Anxiety Shut Up & Dance

Photo Courtesy: Kelly Lennon

By Kelly Lennon, Swimming World College Intern

My first YMCA Nationals, I was lining up for the 500 when I saw a girl absolutely JAMMING out behind the blocks. Her headphones had this colorful string wrapped around it and she was moving completely freely and wildly, making her impossible to miss. I won’t lie. In this moment, I was judging this girl. And I was judging her HARD.

My pre-race ritual consisted of the fiercest face my muscles would allow for and aggressive shaking of the arms and legs, ignoring everybody around me and giving off an air of intensity, making sure my competition knew I was ready. Any pre-race music was angry and loud, and there was definitely NO dancing.

I watched this girl in amazement, realizing she could not care less about those around her watching. I was shocked. Why wasn’t she getting in the zone? Why wasn’t she stretching? And most importantly – why wasn’t she taking this seriously?

My heat was one of the first, and I couldn’t have tanked it harder. I added 10 seconds to my time and was insanely frustrated. This was my only real race of the weekend, the only one I qualified for, and I completely screwed it up. Something had to change in my strategy.


Photo Courtesy: Kelly Lennon

I couldn’t tell you that this was the first time I danced, but at some point, I danced. And I dance now. And I dance hard. Getting “in the zone” may work for many people, but it wasn’t working for me. It took me too long to realize that by trying to be intense and psyching out my competition, I was psyching out myself.

I would try to carry over my intensity from my warm up to my race, and end up completely negating my technique in exchange for an appearance. So, I started dancing. Every race that I swim now is preceded by as long of a dance party as I have time for, volume as high as it can possibly go and to music that would make anyone want to jam out.

I get a lot of looks from the competition, similar to the one I gave the girl at YNats, and I can feel the judgment in their eyes, wondering the same thing I was – why isn’t she taking it seriously? But if anything, I’m taking it more seriously than ever before.

Dancing warms me up for my race by getting my heart rate up and my muscles loose, but more importantly it relaxes me. Something about the carefreeness of a solo dance party relaxes me and makes me excited to swim as opposed to tight and nervous.

Sierra Schmidt CeraVe Invitational

Photo Courtesy: Heidi Torregroza

The girl from YNats and I certainly aren’t the only two who have picked up this habit, Sierra Schmidt of NBAC was recorded earlier this year at the CeraVe Invitational busting a move behind the blocks before her races.

Sierra said, when asked by Swimming World intern Nicholas Lehman, that she “loves dancing and loves music” and she “usually gets really nervous behind the blocks…it helps (her) calm down before the race.”

For those of you who are new to the dance party lifestyle, here are some pump up songs that get me ready to race:

  • Shake It Off – Taylor Swift (C’mon people. It’s a given. The haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate.)
  • Find You – Zedd ft. Matthew Koma
  • BO$$ – Fifth Harmony
  • Shut Up and Dance – WALK THE MOON
  • GDFR – Flo Rida
  • Time of Our Lives – Pitbull & Ne-Yo
  • Out Alive – Ke$ha
  • Get Low – Dillon Francis
  • Higher Ground – TNGHT (Hudson Mohawke x Lunice)
  • Uptown Funk – Bruno Mars
  • We Own the Night – The Wanted (Chainsmokers Remix)
  • Mambo No. 5 – Lou Bega
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Sandra O'brien
8 years ago

Paola O’Brien

Nadia Gagliardi
8 years ago

Simon Gagliardi

Kyna Pereira
8 years ago

Naomi Ruele ?

Naomi Ruele
8 years ago

One day ??? Kyna Pereira

Julie Unruh
8 years ago

Haley Unruh check out the music !!

Paulette Juilfs
8 years ago

Sammie Juilfs

Amanda Nicol
8 years ago

Ashley Nicol

Caroline Doorly
8 years ago

Tracy Boland

Melissa Shields
8 years ago

Rob Stott

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