The ‘Small’ Finale: How to Cope with A Bad Champs Meet; And What It All Means


The ‘Small’ Finale: How to Cope with A Bad Champs Meet; And What It All Means

Hey swimmers.

As the swim season comes to a close, as it always does, I’m sure plenty of you (if not all of you) just had a pretty important swim meet. Practiced all year, tapered for a few weeks, took extra good care of yourself and got up on those blocks several times throughout a busy, exciting, and painfully exhausting weekend. These things usually go one of two ways:

Option 1: It was freakin’ AWESOME. Everything you trained for was granted to you. On a silver freakin’ platter. It felt like you were in Vegas, and you struck absolute GOLD. It seemed as if every time you touched the wall and looked up at the board, a smile spread across your face instantly. You dedicated so much of your life to this sport, this season, and it was all worth it.

Option 2: It was incredibly underwhelming. Your times were nowhere near where they should’ve been, or at least what you thought they should’ve been, and it felt pointless. It was as if you threw away an entire season of hard work, and you did it for nothing. These meets are the hardest to handle, especially in the aftermath when all you have left is your thoughts about what you could’ve done differently.

If your championship meet(s) went anything like option two, I’m here to tell you this: it’s okay. Don’t worry your pretty little heads, swimmers. For some extra reassurance, I created a list to help you cope with what probably seems like the end of the world. In other words, there are better ways to cope than eating ice cream in a dark bedroom. Here’s a few.

Use It As a Learning Experience

I know this sounds like a piece of advice from one of your parents, but it carries plenty of truth with it. Furthermore, it’s important to realize that literally no one has a perfect track record when it comes to championship meets. Not even the best of the best. Plenty of top-notch swimmers have had their fair share of disappointing performances. But they learned from it. How else do you think they climbed the magical ladder of swimming prominence?

So, the meet didn’t go the way you had hoped; what can you learn from this experience? You know, meets like this are almost more valuable than the successful ones, in a way. There’s many more lessons to be learned. More room to grow. Think of your swimming career like a brick house that you are building. Sure, your victorious meets are a brick in the foundation. But so are your faulty ones. Those might even be worth three bricks; they sure do strengthen the foundation if you know what to learn from and improve on.

Maybe you didn’t execute your reaction time off the blocks like you had practiced. Or your turns were slow, even though you worked on them all year. Or maybe, just maybe, everything was there except for your mindset. What can you do differently next time to better prepare yourself for the starts, the turns, and the championship mindset that you deserve to have going into every single meet?

And you do deserve to have it, little swimmer. You work so damn hard, and you know you do. Take your mistakes and turn them into victories. You’ve worked for all the success in the world, use these blips in your career to come back even stronger.

Look For the Positives

This also seems like a loaded statement, especially with how you’re probably feeling right now. But there’s positives in every situation; yin and yang or whatever, right? In the good there is bad, and in the bad there is good. 

At least one thing could’ve gone right. Maybe your swims were poor, but your turns were phenomenal. Or if your turns were bad, your finishes were spot-on. At the very least, you just spent an entire weekend with your team, your best friends, your family, your favorite people in this world. And that, my friend, is an accomplishment in itself.

Use the failures as lessons, and always search for the brighter side of things. This brighter side will keep you going, I promise.

Swimming Isn’t Everything

ALERT! ALERT! This is only a sport that you do! It’s not your entire world! It isn’t end-all, be-all! IT’S NOT LIFE OR DEATH!

In all seriousness, though, I know sometimes it feels that way. Especially because it takes up so much of your time, seemingly consuming your life. Not to say that it isn’t important; it certainly is. But failures in this sport shouldn’t break you. They shouldn’t consume you. This sport holds the weight that you give to it. In other words, it definitely matters, but also definitely doesn’t.

If you have a bad meet, the world will keep rotating, believe it or not. The sun will set, and the sun will rise. The birds will still chirp in the morning, your family will still love you unconditionally, and your friends will still text you asking if you want to grab a deliciously over-priced coffee. No one is disappointed in you, and life will go on. I can promise you this.

Always remember that this is just a sport, and the consequences of how you perform will not infiltrate into your life completely and swallow you whole. Even though your meet didn’t go the way you had planned, there’s still avocado toast with fried eggs on top, small puppies that bounce when they walk, and couch days with your best friends binge-watching the newest Netflix series. There’s still strawberry icecream with chunks of actual strawberry in it, and sunsets that make you feel alive. There’s still a life to be lived. And that’s something to be grateful for, even in the midst of all this disappointment.

Remember Why You Started Swimming

Think super hard for me about the mini version of yourself starting swimming for the first time, and the first time that version of yourself decided to pursue swimming continuously.

Did that version of yourself think, “I’m going to start swimming so I can have an absolutely epic championship meet”? My point exactly. I could drop the microphone right now, but let me pull at your heartstrings a bit more before I go.

You didn’t start swimming so you could swim fast at a big meet when you got older. Sure, that’s part of this whole thing, and it was definitely a component of your vision for pursuing this sport, but it wasn’t why you started when you were a kid. When you were a kid, you only did things because you loved them. Because they excited you. Swimming started a little fire in your belly and you wanted to keep that fire going. So keep the fire going. Don’t let it die because your performance didn’t reach your own standards. Mini you would be so proud of you; they wouldn’t think twice about your times.

You swim because you love it. That’s always been the underlying reason, the underlying motivation to go fast at these big meets. So if you don’t go fast, love it anyway. Just love, love, love. For as long as you can. It’s so much more than the numbers on the clock, and you know this.

Swimming was, is, and will always be so much more than how fast you swam.

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