After this fast weekend at Junior Nationals our younger swimmmers realized several things: Yes it was a fast meet, yes they were older, yes the great coaches were there. But in addition to these, one very important event happened that needed to take place with all these younger athletes. They got to see how close they are to actually competing with these fast swimmers.
Young swimmers got to watch some of the nation’s best swimmers through the entire race process — what they do mentally and physically to get ready to race. They got to see what the A and B Final swimmers look like while swimming backstroke, head position and tempo, or the timing in breaststroke with the efficency and glide is absolutely invaluable! So let’s talk about the Pre, Race and Post race pieces that we observed.
Watching Race Prep
Watching the A and B Final swimmers conduct their race prep is probably what gives them an edge from all the other less experienced swimmers. Beginning with a good warm up and then getting by themselves, mentally going through the race in their head, visualizing (see old post), and swinging and stretching their limbs for maximum speed. What that also does is prepares their muscles from a physiological standpoint. For more information, check this article out. This one is from 2002 and for cycling, but it has all the same principles that apply to swimming. Physiology and your muscles
Most young athletes really don’t know what to do and oftentimes they talk and run around right before events. You know what? The more the young athletes practice their meet prep and spending the effort to do so, the more powerful the process and therefore the more focused, and obviously a better and more ready the athlete is! So get practicing with race prep. By the way, it works. I told one of my athletes just this month to start working on it and get your head in the game…What an absolute turn around! It works.
The Junior National swimmers showed it this weekend. Plain and simple, training takes over. If you have been training to your expertise or your best efforts, the race will take care of itself. So, listen to your coach, focus on technique, and develop your strength and stamina during practice.
Post Swim Care
We coaches state that warming up and warming down are key to great swimming and the longevity of the body as well as onging performance. But how do we really know this? USA Swimming put out a great article about the art of recovery, check it out! Who knew sprinters needed more swim down than distance swimmers? Watching the Junior National swimmers go directly to the warm down even before speaking with their coach was a good lesson for our young athletes.
Swimming multiple events at multi-day meets are very taxing on the body and young athletes need to realize that. The swimmer with most “in the tank” both physically and mentally on the last day will and should prevail everytime.
After this fast weekend at Junior Nationals our swimmers learned a great deal. Hopefully you can also spread this knowledge throughout your team and develop your own “team Pre, race and post strategy” for greatness.
Let me know how your team or your athletic pre, race and post race has changed and how you have worked on it. I’ll post it here on the blog!