We took our Senior 1 training group to a 4 way meet on Saturday. We have been in the water for a mere 3 weeks. We have always found that as a competitive swim team we serve our team well by going to a meet of some sort early in the training cycle. It gives the team and the coaches a chance to see “how things are going”.
We have altered our cycle a bit. The swimmers seem to like it, meaning they understand it and are applying themselves well. We actually had many fast swims compared to the same meet one year ago.
Of course, we also had a chance to see if behavior patterns have altered – for the better. Ken made the brilliant – he is the smart one in his family! (No offense intended) – Observation that many of our swimmers are creatures of habit. Indeed, the human race is comprised of “creatures of habit.”
When we get in a stressful situation, such as a race, we tend to revert to what we do on a regular basis in training. This highlights the real value of training. We often say that we race the way we train.
Case in point, if a swimmer folds his/her tent when the exhaustion point looms in practice, then in a meet the same thing occurs. The process may be as simple as, “I am beat. I have pushed hard for “X” amount of time or repeats and now I am cooked. I will back off to survive then regroup for the next repeat, set or workout.”
When that swimmer gets in a race and the same moment occurs, he/she doesn’t even have a chance to evaluate. He/she simply goes to the “default” position. A normal back off occurs and the race is “forfeited” in lieu of “trying another time/day” when presumably I will feel “more up to it.”
As coaches it is our responsibility to get our swimmers “over the hump”…to allow them to seek and fail and not be judgmental about their results. Rather they need to be recognized for their effort in pursuit of the process. We believe that coaches need to empower their athletes to be willing to seek the edges of their abilities and to willingly fail in order that they may learn how to stretch themselves further.
We are actually using competitive swimming to teach about how life works. If you are a creature of habit, and don’t acknowledge this fact, you are doomed to repeat your frsutrations.