At North Bay Aquatics we are very fortunate to have some swimmers who move on to colleges with big time swimming programs. JD – as he is known to all of us – is one such student/athlete. He is swimming and studying at the University of Arizona…which makes Ken feel enormously proud since Ken is an All-American from the 70’s at Arizona…and he actually graduated as well! Eric is the Head Coach and he held a team meeting recently. JD shared the content from that meeting…in a word, awesome. Thank you JD for sharing with NBA. We really appreciate your presence on our team.
Eric had all of the swimmers who have been Olympians give everyone a piece of advice before they leave for Trials. Everything was geared toward Trials and the Olympics, but it can easily be applied to swimmers at any level going to their big meet. For that matter, the advice can be relevant to anyone who needs to perform when it counts.
Below are my paraphrased highlights. You can see how important smiling and relaxing are at big meets. Mistakes and omissions are mine; credit for any good stuff goes to the respective Olympian.
Eller College of Management - Entrepreneurship, Business Economics
College of Humanities - Spanish (Portuguese Concentration)
The University of Arizona, Honors College
Crissy Perham - 1992 silver medalist, 100 fly; relay gold medalist
Crispy qualified for the 1991 World Championships team. She remembers being very nervous on deck because it was her first major international meet. Matt Biondi came up to her and asked, "Are you having fun?" She said, "Yes, of course. This is what I do; after all, I'm a swimmer, so of course I'm having fun being at Worlds." His response: "Well, then can you please make your face look like you’re having fun?"
Albert Subirats - 2008, 2012 Olympian for Venezuela
Albert didn't perform as well as he wanted to in 2008 because he treated the Olympics as something bigger than they really were. "It's just another meet," he said, "but I forgot that in Beijing. If you're going to Olympic Trials or the Olympics themselves, you have to take the 'Olympic' part out of it. Don't freak out - it's the same 50, 100, 200, or 400 meters you always swim."
Christine Magnuson - 2008 silver medalist, 100 fly; relay silver medalist
Christine talked about how seeing herself as an underdog was critical to her making the team in 2008. "No one expected anything from me at Trials last time, there was no target on my back. That's how I'm going to think about it this time around, too," she said, even though she is one of the "favorites" to make the team. She also gave advice on how to keep yourself from over-thinking the whole thing: "Pick someone in your heat and focus on beating them. And it can be for any reason. For me at Trials in 2008, I chose someone because I thought she was a real jerk."
Matt Grevers- 2008 silver medalist, 100 back; relay gold medalist
Grevers focused on something similar to Crissy. "Even if you're super nervous, just smile. I don't care if you've made finals and you're going crazy inside, just smile. Smiling relieves so much stress and helps with your nerves. Every time they call my name, I just do this," he said, and made his goofy trademark grin.
Ed Moses - 2000 silver medalist, 100 breaststroke; relay gold medalist
Ed's message was similar to Christine's. "In 2000, I made the team when no one expected it. But in 2004, I was the favorite in both breaststrokes and I didn't make the team in either event. I cared too much about what other people thought of me, and I let that get to my head."
Amanda Beard- 1996, 2000, 2004, 2008 Olympian; multiple-time gold medalist, world record holder
Amanda said she likes to think about how there are bigger things in life than swimming. "Before every race, I always spend time with my family because they remind me that swimming isn't everything. When I'm behind the blocks, I always wave to them - they go crazy, and it makes me smile. If you guys need to, you can wave to them, too, because they're always drunk and they'll love it."