By Alexandra Kouzas, Coach Jrs
“I had a bad race, the world is going to end!”
Yes, all swimmers have been there.
We dive in, swim our hearts out, but when we finish the race and look up at the board, all we have done is added time. In that moment, the world feels like it is going to end and you start reflecting back on the race, analyzing your every move, to see where you could’ve put on time. I bet that it doesn’t take much thinking to pinpoint it either. Before you have even climbed out of the pool, you have already pinpointed at least 3 mistakes you made in your race. Whether it was a bad dive, slow turn, missing the wall, going out too slow or breathing too often, you have already figured it out.
Now here is where the hard part comes. Sometimes there are tears, sometimes there is anger. We put more pressure on ourselves than our coaches or parents do because, at the end of the day, this is your dream and you want to succeed for yourself.
So here is my advice:
Warm down, go to the washroom and cry if need be, then take a big breath, listen to what your coach says about your race and learn from what you did. Learn how you can do better next time, because I can guarantee you that there will be more days like this than there are days where you are celebrating a win or a best time. Ultimately, you learn more from your losses than your wins.
Whenever I have won a race, I usually can’t even remember the specifics of the race itself, everything just flows and works well together. I know it is easier said than done, but the extra time you have put on needs to be taken lightly. Learn from it, figure out how you can be better, and then practice it in training so that you are ready when the next meet rolls around.
A personal tip that I like to do sometimes is write down immediately after my race how I feel and what I think I did wrong AND right in my race. I do this because I often find that once the day is over or a few days have passed, I forget how I felt in that moment and why.
I can then look back, remind myself, and remember what I need to focus on during practice. Because what we do in practice is what we will do at a meet. Don’t sell yourself short, no matter how tired you are in practice, make sure you are still doing all the little things. Tight streamlines, dolphin kicks, the right breathing pattern, and proper turns. All these things will help you to have a better race, and shave off those split seconds you have been trying to remove for so long.
So next time you look up at the board and see the extra split seconds on your time, use it, let it fuel your passion to become better and faster at the next meet.