Swimming World Presents – Before the Beep: with Olivia Smoliga

Swimming World January 2021 - Mental Prep - Before the Beep - Olivia Smoliga
Olivia Smoliga [PHOTO BY FINIS, INC PHOTOGRAPHY]

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Before the Beep: with Olivia Smoliga

By Shoshanna Rutemiller

 

Olivia Smoliga, by her own accounts, has officially made it! “I made it when I was able to go into work every day without feeling like I was doing work—I was simply loving what I do.”

“Work” looks a little different for the 2016 Olympic gold medalist and 14-time champion at Worlds (4 LC, 10 SCM) between 2012 and 2019. While work for the non-professional athlete might involve going to school, studying for an exam or working on a presentation, Smoliga’s work involves countless hours and laps in the pool mixed together with tough mental and physical preparation. And her big payoff would be qualifying for her second Olympic team in 2021.

Smoliga’s list of accomplishments are impressive. She was named Swimming World Magazine’s 2013 High School Swimmer of the Year and is the current American record holder in the 50 meter backstroke (27.33). She also placed first at the 2016 Olympic Trials, beating out heavyweight backstroke names such as Missy Franklin and Natalie Coughlin for the team.

“I feel like I’ve ‘made it,’ but I also feel like I have barriers I want to break. I’m still working toward my greatest accomplishment. If I’ve already had it, then I’m not learning.”

That sense of always learning goes hand-in-hand with Smoliga’s view that to be truly mentally prepared, you have to be in tune with yourself. She says swimmers should continually “check in on themselves” because nobody knows them better than themselves!

“In the age of social media, focus on other people has taken away from the focus on ourselves. All of that energy that I’m focusing on someone else could be harnessed instead,” she says.

Coaches often tell their swimmers, “Stick to your own race”…“Focus on your work”…and “Visualize, then enact your plan.” Smoliga is a testament to the fact that this advice works, and she’s more than happy to share her pre-race mental preparation routine with other swimmers because, says Smoliga, “We stress a lot about what happens in the moment…but as long as we’re working hard, everything will be fine.”


To read more about how Olivia Smoliga prepares for a race,
click here to download the Swimming World January 2021 issue, available now!

SW January 2021 - Cover - Michael Andrew - Taking the Road Less Traveled[PHOTO BY MINE KASABOGLU/ISL]

 

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Swimming World Magazine January 2021 Issue

FEATURES

011 A YEAR LIKE NONE OTHER
by Dan D’Addona
The top story of 2020—the COVID-19 pandemic—impacted all of the year’s stories in aquatics…from age group, high school, college and Masters competition all the way to the Olympics!

012 THE TOP 10 PERFORMANCES OF THE MILLENNIUM’S FIRST 20 YEARS (2000-19)
by John Lohn
One month after we selected the Swimmers of the Millennium (to this point), we have picked the top 10 performances of the millennium’s first 20 years. The swims that were selected were not just based on speed, but carried a certain level of significance or marked a defining moment in the sport.

020 TAKING THE ROAD LESS TRAVELED
by David Rieder
Michael Andrew has been the target of criticism the last seven-and-a-half years for his decision to turn pro at 14, his unique training style (USRPT), his training plan and more. But he’s also enjoyed success along the way and is ready to move to the next level as he prepares to qualify for the 2021 Olympics.

024 WHO “SHOT” THE SWIMMERS?
by Bruce Wigo
This is the first part of a series that highlights an International Swimming Hall of Fame exhibit showing the history of swimming through the eyes of the photojournalists who have covered the aquatic sports for more than 150 years.

028 A SHOOTING STAR IN SEOUL
by John Lohn
American Matt Biondi had it all. The physique. The pure talent. The inner drive. Add those traits together, and it is no surprise that Matt Biondi—over the span of three Olympiads—cultivated one of the finest careers the sport has ever seen.

031 2020 WORLD & AMERICAN RECORD PROGRESSION
compiled by Andy Ross

033 NUTRITION: IF YOU WANT TO BE AN OLYMPIAN OR WORLD CHAMPION, THEN TRAIN LIKE ONE!
by Dawn Weatherwax
A strong immune system means fewer days out of the water.

038 MENTAL PREP: BEFORE THE BEEP WITH OLIVIA SMOLIGA
by Shoshanna Rutemiller

COACHING

015 SELLING PROCESS TO SWIMMERS (Part 1)
by Michael J. Stott
In 1993, Swedish cognitive psychologist Anders Ericsson wrote that greatness wasn’t born, but grown. His ideas later formed the basis for the “10,000-hour rule” described in Malcolm Gladwell’s book, “Outliers” (2008), which holds that it takes roughly 10,000 hours of practice to achieve mastery in a skill or field. Known by the term, “process,” to coaches, Swimming World details how they use that learning curve to improve the performance of their swimmers.

036 SWIMMING TECHNIQUE CONCEPTS: FREESTYLE TECHNIQUE FOR SPRINT AND DISTANCE (Part 1)
by Rod Havriluk
Many sources suggest that swimmers use a different freestyle technique for sprint and distance events. However, science (both physics and research) shows us that a swimmer can optimize performance in events of all distances by using the same arm motion with a different arm coordination.

040 SPECIAL SETS: TOUGH SETS THE DON SWARTZ WAY
by Michael J. Stott
Don Swartz, now at North Bay Aquatics, was Rick DeMont’s coach at Marin Aquatic Club in the early 1970s when he set world records in the 400 and 1500 meter freestyle. The halcyon era was a time of mega yardage being done by the likes of DeMont and fellow Olympians Brian Goodell, Bobby Hackett and Australia’s Steven Holland. When it came to designing tough sets, you could say that Swartz had a front row seat.

043 Q&A WITH COACH KATIE ROBINSON
by Michael J. Stott

044 HOW THEY TRAIN MIRIAM GUEVARA
by Michael J. Stott

TRAINING

035 DRYSIDE TRAINING: RESOLUTIONS FOR SWIMMING FASTER IN 2021!
by J.R. Rosania

JUNIOR SWIMMER

047 UP & COMERS: LEVENIA SIM
by Shoshanna Rutemiller

COLUMNS

008 A VOICE FOR THE SPORT

027 DID YOU KNOW: ABOUT SPORTS CARTOONS?

042 THE OFFICIAL WORD

046 GUTTERTALK

048 PARTING SHOT

Swimming World is now partnered with the International Swimming Hall of Fame. To find out more, visit us at ishof.org

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