Staying Grounded During Championship Season

Photo Courtesy: Atlantic Coast Conference

By Robbie Dickson, Swimming World College Intern.

With three major conference meets starting this week (SEC, ACC, B1G), it is important for the rest of the swimmers preparing for their championship meet to remain grounded. This is definitely way easier said than done. Watching swimmers across the country crush their season, or even personal, bests while you are stuck at home with your taper doubts waiting for your time to shine and show everyone how hard you have worked this season is not easy.

It would be very easy to fall into the trap, and let other people’s swims dictate your own. Some typical thoughts are:

  • “John Smith and I had the same mid-season time, but he went so fast. Does that mean I am going to go that fast”
  • “Wow that person went so fast, there is no way I am going to be able to do”
  • After checking the splits of a certain event, “Well that’s my goal time, but I know I can’t do those splits if THAT person did it and they are so much faster than me”

Swimmers are very smart people. We are analytical, and pretty observant of everything that goes on in the swimming universe. But we also allow too many things to get to our heads and distract us from our routines. Another classic thought is, “Well that team shaved and tapered for their mid-season meet so there is no way they are going to be much faster than that.” All these negative thoughts do is prevent you from staying grounded. All a swimmer should be focused on is doing what they need to do on a daily basis to prepare themselves for a great championship meet.

DURBAN, SOUTH AFRICA - APRIL 15: Brad Tandy during the finals session 50m freestyle semi final on day 6 of the SA National Aquatic Championships and Olympic Trials on April 15 , 2016 at the Kings Park Aquatic Center pool in Durban, South Africa. Photo Credit / Anesh Debiky/Swim SA

Photo Courtesy: Anesh Debiky/Swimming South Africa

Just because you used to beat John Doe when you were fourteen or fifteen, but now you see that he just went 1:34 in the 200 freestyle, does not mean you are now a bad swimmer. Everyone develops at their own pace, and it is your job, especially during championship season, to stay grounded. You have put in more than enough work to have a successful end of the season meet, and you can surprise yourself if you relax and take everyone else’s times with a grain of salt.

It is perfectly normal to check the results from conference meets to see what people are going. But it is not okay to dissect and concoct some personal formula that because somebody went a certain time, that means you can’t do it. That’s false! Championship swimming becomes 90% mental and 10% physical. You need to go into your championship meet with the confidence that you can achieve your goals and the knowledge that that your hard-work is going to pay off. A negative attitude will limit your ability to compete and have fun with your teammates and coaches. Your body has been put through too many painful sets this season to let your brain ruin it for you.

olivia-smoliga-2016-ncaa-womens-swimming 0979

Photo Courtesy: Georgia Athletics

When you arrive at your championship meet, you shouldn’t be trying to jump to a higher emotional level or be trying to figure everything out. Basketball players don’t get to their games and then try out a new dunk or jump shot. They put into action everything that they have practiced for countless hours. It is the same in swimming. Just because your mom is in the stands and the meet isn’t at your home pool, doesn’t mean you should change your routine. It is all about staying grounded, and knowing what works for you.

So to close out, stay grounded. No matter what anyone else in the world does, that does not affect your future performance one bit. I am positive that you have worked hard enough, and will get all the success that you deserve. Everyone has worked too hard for too long to let things that you can not control ruin your championship season.

Good luck to everyone at their championship meets!

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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Author: Robbie Dickson

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Robbie Dickson is a sophomore distance swimmer at Penn State. He is majoring in journalism, and planning on pursuing a career in coaching after graduating.

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