Sunday, January 13, 2013

The Value of Swim Meets

Going to a swim meet never fails to remind us of the value that the focus of a competitive situation gives all of our team – swimmers and coaches alike!

We have just finished the holiday training period…some refer to it as training camp. Others call it “hell week” while others refer to it as vacation time. It really doesn’t matter what name you use. It is now January and here in Northern California as well as most places it is time to ramp things up. Club teams are either getting back into the swing of things or are coming off a period of intense training. College teams had a short break for Christmas and then brought teams back to begin prepping for the conference meet in February and the NCAA Championship meet in March. No matter how you look at it, the season is here for gearing things up.

Even our Masters team swam its first race of the season this last weekend. Holidays are behind us and the New Year is beckoning. Many of our group participates in the summer in open water events ranging from Alcatraz swims, Golden Gate crossings, Tahoe relays – you name it…Masters have all kinds of swims on the upcoming calendar with plenty of pool events in the mix. And of course, it will soon be triathlon season.

So, what does this mean to us, here in mid-January?

If you are just getting back into the swing of things, the first meet gives you an indication of where you are and what needs to be done to get back to where you want to be. For those who have been training off and on it tells you where you are on the spectrum of fitness and competitive readiness. For those who have invested a lot of energy and time into winter prep training the first meet tells you what you need to focus on in coming weeks. Maybe you are very strong but have not so much speed…or perhaps you feel comfortable in the water but don’t really have your pacing where you know it needs to be. It doesn’t really matter what the “problems” are, it is more important that you have an awareness of what exactly needs your focus.

We took our Senior 1 group to a “low key” Invitational on Saturday. It was long course meters with four events swum in two 75 minute sessions with a 2 hour break for breakfast burritos and a guest speaker. Many thanks to Andy Grant for an awesome job! He spoke about college swimming, how it fits into a high schooler’s scheme of development and his own personal growth path. Anyone who thinks that all championship swimmers follow one path is sadly mistaken!

What we learned from the “meet” was that we have an awesome level of fitness from the holiday training, not much speed – no surprises there – and some swimmers who will compete no matter how they feel (not at all rested on Saturday) while others cannot overcome the feelings of soreness and therefore back away from the opportunity.

One of the things our club program aims at is developing swimmers for the college experience. In college, swimmers need to compete regardless of how they feel. A meet like this last Saturday give all of us, swimmers and coaches alike, a chance to see how we are doing on this part of the game.

One final note, if you took a break over the holidays, get to a meet as soon as you can. Don’t worry about being unprepared. Go to the meet and do your best. It will jump start your preparation for the coming season. It never fails.

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