We have been at several meets this weekend; our local high school league championship and the Santa Clara International Invitational. The local high school meet is followed next week by the Section meet which is the culmination of the scholastic athletic swim season. The Santa Clara meet is a tune up for many of the swimmers going to the US Olympic Trials. The meet also featured many foreign swimmers from diverse countries such as Australia, Wales, Great Britain, South Africa, Mexico and Japan.
At both meets there was a fair amount of “sizing up” the competition. Some swimmers were more rested than others, some not at all and even a handful of shaved swimmers could be observed plying their craft. For most, these meets, while important, are more like dress rehearsals. It matters not if your name is Natalie Coughlin, Michael Phelps, Aaron Peirsol, Dana Vollmer or Brendan Hansen. Everyone is seeing where they are training wise right now with something important happening sooner than later.
They also serve another very valuable purpose. They give each swimmer, regardless of specific readiness, a chance to practice testing her/his measure of courage and trust. When the big race (or job interview or school test) is upon you it is important to have courage; courage to face your opponent(s) and courage dealing with your inner most fears (which everyone has from time to time). And you must have trust; trust in yourself.
Where do you get courage and trust? In our opinion, you get it each day as you prepare, as you practice. One of your goals each day could be to do something you have never done before, or do it longer, more relaxed or smoother. This applies to all of us regardless of our talent level or our personal ambition. There is value in working to do a task or skill correctly even if you are not trying to make the Olympic Team. Doing so will give you a greater sense of personal satisfaction. More importantly it will establish a higher level of awareness as to the value of what you are doing, regardless of what it is.
Give it a try and let us know what you think. Thanks and we’ll see you at the pool!