This is by far the most important time in meet preparation. At this point in the season, you have put in the hours and the hard work, so make it count!
Sharpen your skills, get sleep, eat properly and take care of your body.
HAVE SOME FUN! You put in all this work. Enjoy yourself and enjoy the process. A happy swimmer is a fast swimmer!
The key to this phase is FUN. Enjoy yourself and enjoy the time you have in the pool. Your teammates will pick up on your energy and copy it. Support them and they will support you.
Get your swim bag packed the night before. That way, you can get some extra time to sleep, and won’t be stressed and rushed in the morning.
GET SOME SLEEP! Sleep is the body’s way of healing itself and the average teenager should get a minimum of eight to nine hours of sleep each night. Try to keep the big meet off your mind as much as possible. It is completely natural to have the “what ifs” creep in. Acknowledge those thoughts and find a way to replace them with positive affirmations.
Show up to the meet 15-20 minutes before your warm up and find a space. Make it a place where your teammates can congregate. After all, you are all in this together. Find your coach, and let him or her know you have arrived. Make sure you get in right when warm up starts. Warm ups are crowded. However, if you play the game right, you can get in an effective warm up.
The first few minutes and the last few minutes are when it is the least crowded.
When behind the blocks, do whatever it takes you to get into the zone. Some swimmers like to be silent and still, others like to chat it up, and some like to dance around to music. Whatever works for you, do it!
Nothing more you can say or do at this point will matter. You trained with purpose, you listened to your coaches (hopefully), and you have fully prepared. Let all that take hold. Swim the race to the best of your ability and think about the process rather than the outcome or end result.
Regardless of the outcome, always display good sportsmanship. Shake your competitor’s hand as a sign of respect, not only for them, but for the sport. Go directly to your coach and talk about your race – the good, the bad and the ugly.
If there is a warm down pool available, use it. Your body just exerted a huge amount of energy and expended large amounts of lactic acid. Keep swimming a little longer after you feel like you’ve recovered. Once you properly warm down and feel you have returned to a stable place, relax. Go find your bag, throw on some clothes and now be a part of the team.
Months of swimming and planning with intent leads to a successful swim meet. The next time you are struggling during a huge set, think about that big meet months away. Get into the mindset of swimming fast now!
Watch my 2002 World Record Swim in the 50m Breaststroke at the Manchester Commonwealth Games here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e7Q4qUHE-oA