What Mold Do You Fit: Practice or Meet Swimmer?
Everyone knows that one swimmer who destroys every practice, but when it comes time for meets cannot match that same speed in a race. On the flip side, there are some swimmers who post extremely fast times at every meet, even though they do not bring dynamic speed to practice.
There are various reasons for these identities.
Warmup. Some swimmers need really long warmups to achieve peak performance, and during a practice, swimmers will usually warm up for longer stretches than at meets. Someone who is used to a 45-minute warmup in practice, but only has 30 minutes before a meet, may be swimming their races cold. Another example of this is a swimmer who records a best time at the end of a practice and then does not touch that time at a meet the next weekend. The difference for that swimmer could be that 30 minutes of warmup at a meet may not be adequate compared to two hours of swimming during practice. Of course, adjusting the way warmups are handled at meets to provide more time can help.
Focus. Focus during practice is important, but being focused at meets is critical. A swimmer who is extremely locked in for every main set during practice must transfer that approach to practice, and may need to achieve a higher level of focus or adrenaline at meets.
Taper. Some swimmers who go extremely fast in practice may not perform at taper meets because they don’t need much rest. If someone can crush practice everyday without needing much recovery time, it is unlikely they will need a two-week taper. Someone who is clearly ready to go huge best times but struggles at taper meets may just need less taper. Tapering is a tricky thing, and the most important element of taper is trusting your training. Trusting that you put in the work, and can rest for the days leading up to a meet, is important at championship meets in order to stay confident.
Overthinking. Meets put more pressure on a swimmer mentally than the daily practice, and athletes who do not do well under pressure and overthink their races could struggle in a championship-meet scenario. This difficulty may be a harder fix, but with racing experience, and a positive attitude, meet performance can greatly improve.
Nutrition. Most people remember to drink water during practice, and most people eat before practice. But for some, a nervous swim meet stomach could cause them to not eat breakfast and not have enough nutrients to swim fast. In addition, the lack of proper hydration by athletes during meets can be a huge hindrance to performance.
Patience. One of the most important parts of swimming is patience. If you know that you are capable of massive best times, but they are not showing, the key is patience. Continuing to train hard and waiting for those times to show can be hard, but perseverance usually pays off.
So, how do you swim fast at meets?
- Keep a strong mental attitude.
- Focus on your races. Try to get the adrenaline flowing.
- Eat quality food, and hydrate.
- Trust your training. Don’t overthink and be patient.