Every coach in the world has an “Alice” on your team. She came to us in December of 2014 and asked, “How do I get faster?” “What can I do to make a travel meet?” We responded with this, “Make a list of the things you think are your strengths and your weaknesses”. She did…and to no one’s surprise the weaknesses far exceeded the strengths. We responded with, “Alice, you have a lot more going for you than you think you do.” She smiled, not quite believing us. We said, you need to work on the positives and decide which of the negatives you can eliminate or at least move to the “zero” impact area.” She resolved to do that…and her swim as described below is proof of that transformation.
Two days ago, in our workout, Ken asked everyone to kick 5x100 on the 2 minutes. Easy enough to do. The first lap of the first one was fast, the 2nd lap of the second one was fast etc…the 5th one was as fast as you could go…get under a minute, get under a 1:10, etc. Alice, who can easily kick backstroke very fast stayed with her board because she knew it was a “better” way to prove to herself that she was improving (look for and take the harder way!).
And that is what this game we play is all about…pushing our limits, testing ourselves, being willing to fail, being willing to succeed, and being willing to move forward…
Thank you Alice for sharing!
“I am speed replays in my head as I stand behind the blocks waiting in the cool shade of the EZ-ups for my race. The confidence I’ve built over the last seven months pumps me up for one of my last chances to go to Clovis, the Western Zone Championship. Chlorine vaporizes from the pool mixing with smoke from the snack bar grill. The thoughts of food are, for once, not my main focus. The murmur of the crowd surrounds my bubble of concentration. Nothing can distract me. A zap of excitement zips through me as they call the heat before me. Goosebumps of anticipation cover my skin. I go through my race prep routine: toe touches, arm swings, and shoulder stretches. When the official tweets his whistle I do two quick jumps to get my heart moving, crack my neck and remember, I am speed. The long whistle blows. Goggles and cap are firmly on. I step on to the textured block into the blazing sun light. I get into my dive position, ignoring the tightness of my compression suit.
“Take your mark,” crackles through the speakers. Everything stills. The crowd fades away. My muscles tense as I prepare to spring. The need for speed builds. I am speed.
BURMP! The starter goes off. Muscle memory takes over as I dive in. The water invites me smoothly into its refreshing and energizing waves. Four explosive dolphin kicks propel me as I powerfully break the surface setting my tempo at the right pace. My kick enhances the momentum of my arms. Every sixth stroke I take a breath; a skill with which I struggled. About half way across the pool I take my fourth breath and notice the girl next to me starting to pull ahead. Competitiveness kicks in as the lactic acid starts to build in my muscles; I’m getting tired. No. Don’t think negative. Keep a positive mindset, just like Rebecca, a sports psychiatrist, told me. The burn increases, which drives me to push harder. I’m under the 5 meter flags. Last breath, then catch, pull, kick and punch the wall with a high five to end my race.
I gulp for air. My arms and legs tremble as my heart continues to race. I splash my face to cool it. I finally look up to the scoreboard: 29.59 seconds. I squeeze my eyes shut and look up again at the time. I try to remember the qualification time for Clovis in the 50 meter freestyle.
A spurt of energy pulls me out of the pool to find out if I made it. I shimmy my way through the crowd. I’m still in my bubble of focus. Nothing is stopping me until I find out whether I made the time. I finally reach my coach.
“Don, did I get it?”
He turns around in his chair and sticks out his hand.
“Congratulations, you’re going to Clovis.”
I shake his hand firmly. A million emotions fill me. Joy overtakes as I break into my happy dance. I finally made it. It only took about seven months of dedication, but I got it. I’m not going to be left behind while the rest of the team goes to the travel meet. I’m now truly a part of the senior team – no longer the slowest.
Congratulatory slaps on the back and hugs surround me. I break away to go warm down. The crunchy grass tickles my feet as the murmuring of the crowd returns to my senses. I walk with a skip in my step to the section of the pool where swimmers warm up for their races. A goofy smile spreads across my face. I hop into the chilling pool, embracing the chlorine to which I’ve become immune, and warm down while reminding myself that I am speed. I realize that determination pays off in the end. “