With the help of Aqua Sphere and SwimOutlet.com, I was granted the fun opportunity to host a contest that asked fellow swimmers to share their top tips for preparing for big swim meets. This contest was part of a mini-series called “Chasing 5” chronicling my pursuit of my 5th Olympic Games (in the midst of keeping up with my duties as a mom, wife and businesswoman!). I really loved this promotion because I got to interact with so many other talented swimmers and hear what works for them. I even may take a tip or two as I continue on my journey to the Olympic Games (fingers crossed)!
To end the contest, Aqua Sphere and SwimOutlet.com asked me to choose my three favorite tips. Winners won a signed copy of my new memoir, “In The Water They Can’t See You Cry,” as well as a gift card for awesome Aqua Sphere apparel!
Check out the winning entries I chose:
Winning Entry 1 – Grant: As an older swimmer, I prepare for a meet slightly differently than when in college. From a nutrition standpoint, I drink protein shakes within the hour of my morning training. Iwish I had done that 20+ years ago, but I’m not sure nutrition was really viewed as part of the training toolkit. I also try to eat many times a day and as much as possible. At 6'1", I'm down to 175 pounds, so to keep energy up and help my body recover, the protein and volume of food is a must. After all, you can't run a high horsepower motor with no gas in the tank!
From a mental aspect, knowing that some days I'm not going to be as fast as others in a workout is okay. As a sprinter, it's okay to swim and feel tired during the season, knowing how beneficialthe payoff will be when I taper. Also, I've learned to smile and really enjoy the sport and camaraderie – I used to be way too serious and wouldn't even talk to competitors. Now, I'm like a chatty 12-year-old and make it fun for all, including coaches. Live for the moment as the moments in swimming change.
Physically (and mentally, too), it comes down to a simple adage: “To swim fast, you have to swim fast.” There are times when you have to push yourself to the limits. That's when you have to "attack" and think about what your goals are. Then, when you step up to the block, you have the confidence knowing you did all you could in preparation. Leave no doubt to yourself or anyone else. If you can do the "mirror test" (look at yourself in the mirror and honestly answer your own questions),you have no one else to answer to or anything else to prove!
Winning Entry 2 – Hanna: I prepare for every swim meet like it's my last. No matter if it's regionals, nationals, or just a time trial, to me, each meet is just as important. Each meet is a chance to feel the adrienaline rush of great racing.
In practice, I make sure I have the right feeling for the water. There's that feeling of fusion and ease that I long for with every stroke I take. Once I've found that right feeling, I know I am ready for the race.
At home, I make sure I watch even closer what I eat. I make sure to fuel mybody with the best foods, so I get the most out of every meal.
Mental preparation is key in swimming. They say every race is 20% physical and 80% mental, and I strongly believe it. A week prior to the meet, I begin to I visualize my races before bed each night. The dive, every stroke, every turn, the finish, and even what I am doing behind the blocks before the race even starts.
To me, there is nothing more satisfying than the adrienaline rush of racing. That's why I love swimming.
Winning Entry 3 – Amanda: The night before a meet I like to make sure I stretch a lot to loosen up my muscles. For dinner I eat pasta with a little bit of oil and a touch ofsalt and pepper. I like to make sure not to eat too much so I can go to bed early and have a good night sleep. While I lay in bed, I imagine myself swimming the race exactly the way I wish to swim when I am actually on the block.
The morning of a race, I eat a banana for the potassium and eat only healthy snacks throughout the day.
Before the meet, I jump up and down to get myself pumped for the meet. As I step onto the block, I clear my mind of any distractions and focus on my race. Before the referee blows the whistle, I close my eyes and visualize myself swimming the event with the speed and form that I wish to perform. When I hit the water, I swim with it, not against It – at that point, there is no turning back!
Good Luck Amanda Beard! You are my inspiration.
Congrats to Grant, Hanna and Amanda! And thanks to everyone else who participated.
If you’re interested in reading all of the great tips in addition to watching the “Chasing 5” video footage, click here.
If you didn’t get a chance to share your tips on SwimOutlet.com, be sure to leave a comment here letting me know how YOU prepare for a big meet. I love to hear how other adults, especially swimmers, who are doubling up as parents AND athletes keep the competitive drive going!