To become a swimming champion, swimmers must behave like one. Doing so requires a tremendous amount of planning, self-discipline, and effort. While there are no guarantees, these ten suggestions will greatly increase the possibility.
1. Fail To Plan – Plan To Fail
The number one purpose of practice is to prepare for competition. Swimmers must spend part of their practice time preparing for every aspect of a race including the desired mindset, the ideal racing strategy, the start, the turns, and the finish.
2. Rest Smart
Sorry to disappoint, but the human body is not a perpetual-motion machine. To perform the best, swimmers’ bodies and brains need rest.
3. Train At Race Pace
The mental, technical, and physical demands of racing are extreme and go far beyond the typical demands of training. To prepare, swimmers must train at race pace – not all the time, but often enough.
4. Visualize To Maximize
To become a champion, swimmers must put their imaginations to work by visualizing a positive performance outcome. What the mind can conceive, the body can achieve. Visualizing should be a daily ritual.
5. Rehearse Race Quality Starts
To dominate, swimmers must automate, and that means performing race-quality starts in practice. It’s the only way to make them second-nature.
6. Eat Smart
Food fuels the body and brain. Consuming foods high in complex carbohydrates (at least 48 hours) prior to competition is of key importance. Examples include whole grain cereals and breads, whole grain pasta, rice, fresh or dried fruit, low-fat yogurt, fruit bars, and half-strength Gatorade. Add low-fat sources of protein like baked chicken and drink plenty of water.
7. Rehearse Race Quality Strokes
To dominate, swimmers must automate, and that means performing race-quality strokes in practice. It’s the only way to make them second-nature.
8. Use Meditative Breathing
To become a champion, swimmers must keep their minds free of unwanted thoughts that could sabotage the race. The process involves inhaling slowly to the count of four, then exhaling slowly to the count of four, and then relaxing to the count of four. Each exhale is intended to flush the mind of unwanted thoughts. Meditative breathing should be performed days, hours, and minutes prior to competing.
9. Rehearse Race Quality Turns And Finishes
To dominate, swimmers must automate, and that means performing race-quality turns and finishes in practice. It’s the only way to make them second-nature.
10. Use Positive Self-talk
To become a champion, swimmers must control the quality of their self-talk. Hopeful words increase optimism and the chance of success, while hurtful words increase pessimism and the chance of failure.