Last weekend we raced in Clovis at a large regional senior meet. It was a trials and finals affair in a great facility. We had lots of fast swims, some finalists and of course, a couple of swims that “got away”…pretty much a normal swim meet.
Ivan is a 14 year old boy who we love having on our team. He rides his bike to workouts, even in the rain! He is 6 feet tall, hands large enough to palm a basketball, excellent work ethic, loves to kick…all the things coaches have on their list of desirable traits.
In the meet he swam a 2:00.7 in his 200 fly and got a second swim in the finals where he was nearly just as fast. Those were two fine swims in one day.
In his 400 IM he was out in 2:02 looking good, and then the wheels came off. After the race he came up and said, “I don’t know why that happened. After the back I thought I was going around a 4:20 but I just stopped trying. I just flipped the switch off.”
He went a 4:27…but what was most remarkable was his honesty about the swim. He had the presence of mind to know exactly what happened and when…and then admit it without regard for the possible repercussions. We smiled and simply replied, “Well at least you admit what happened and when it happened.” We thanked him for his honesty and then asked if it was OK with him to share his story.
So many times when a swim “gets away” from a swimmer there is the reluctance to call it exactly as it is…the “switch gets flipped.” In the same meet we had a girl swim 5:00.04 in her 500. Then, the next day she went a 1:58 plus for her 200 free. The switch never got flipped up on that one.
As coaches we like to think that each race is viewed as important, meaningful. Yet the truth is that some mean a lot more to the swimmer than others; often for reasons we cannot fathom. And that is exactly why this sport and coaching is so darned interesting. If you want guarantees you are in the wrong business.
Swimmers, the more often you keep the switch up, the easier it will be to keep it up when it matters the most – in the bigger meets. Why is that so? Simple; when the marbles are on the line, you most always race as you train…and all races are a part of training.