We were in Irvine, CA last week at the US Nationals where all the top racers in the country were vying for spots on upcoming National Teams. Initially they were racing to make the Pan Pacific National Team which is competing in Irvine later in August. Additionally, spots on the US World Championship Team next summer are up for consideration as are places on the World University Games. So you get the picture; there was a lot a stake. To no one's surprise there were some excellent races as all finishes in the top eight counted. Who knows, there may have even been a couple of places in the B final that will get selection officials attention. We watched riveted to the action.
Swimmers at all levels have had the experience of having a particularly excellent race where they knew, or fairly certainly knew, they controlled the outcome of a race. One of our swimmers said when talking about Michael Phelps' 200 Free final that 'I can't imagine having control of a race like that". She was referring to the way that Phelps answered Ryan Lochte's challenge off the third wall. Phelps was in the lead with Lochte in close pursuit throughout the early going. Lochte made a move coming into the turn at the 150 actually touching .01 ahead of Phelps. He - Lochte - kept the heat on actually opening a half stroke lead by the 180 meter mark. It was at that point that Phelps hit another gear and at the 192 mark you could tell that he had set up the final 4 strokes so he would hit the wall exactly at the end of his recovery - and just in front of the furious pursuit of Lochte. The margin between the two was about 3 inches and yet you could see that with about four strokes remaining Phelps had set the finish up perfectly.
That is what our swimmer was referring to in her comments about being in control of the outcome of a race. When we see the most accomplished in any field perform at their highest level we simply take for granted that we could never be so equally capable. And yet the exact opposite is true. Most swimmers, indeed all swimmers at a National Championship meet, have experienced this happening. Our swimmer had just done the very same thing 10 days earlier at Sectionals. They have been on the giving and receiving end. If more swimmers gave themselves more credit then they would also be in "the thick of it" when it comes to competing at ever increasing higher levels.
This is the best part of the swimming experience. When we learn the skill of "controlling the outcome of the race" we actually can transfer that skill set to any phase of our life in which we wish to use it! Think about that one for a minute or two...while you are swimming next time