Swimming at the collegiate level is extremely competitive and balancing training load and when to taper off and rest can frustrate many swimmers. So, what swimming workouts can help put you over your competition and improve your college swimming rankings, even during your swimming taper? The answer may surprise you!
Mental imagery is an extremely powerful tool that can drastically effect the outcome of a race and the performance of the athlete. However, it must be done consistently. Visualizing your race, your breathing, and even the amount of strokes you will take to finish the race play out into reality. By training and mentally preparing for the race, you are teaching your mind how to swim the event so that when it actually comes down to the race, you can do so in the subconcious state of mind, completely allowing your body to take over as it has been trained to do without the athlete having to put too much thought into it. This keeps you relaxed, which in turn keeps your muscles reaching their full range of motion and your breathing in rythmn. Mental imagery allows you, the athlete, to take your mind to the race without having to physically practice.
Swimming Video Transcription: Part of swimming and your competition is when you are looking to go to a school to swim you should also look at the conference that they are and have an understanding of where they are and what they're looking for and the type of standards that are looking for in the conference. That is important because as a person so that you can develop as a person. If you are not a SEC Division I swimmer you don't want to go to a school there in that conference. You want to enjoy it. So Part of it is you want to enjoy but I mean any sport there is a psychological side of it, for me I was swimming short races so I can say that with my 50 m freestyle which on average was around 20 seconds and so there's no breathing involved and so before the race I would prepare myself for that sort of thing. You know any good athlete will tell you that they have a routine to go through before their race event or whatever it may be, they prepare themselves mentally. And you have to set yourself up for success which is when your practice to practice these exact same things so that when it comes time for competition you are ready and you know exactly what is going to feel like so preparing yourself properly mentally is just as important as it is physically.
There's times, I mean I remember one specific instance where we were on a three-day road trip we swam at three different schools Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, and it was just purely exhausting. Three different schools at three different meets in three days, I mean it was a lot. I just remember by the third day being exhausted and I remember within myself that I'd acknowledged that I was exhausted but also acknowledged that we were here to do work and that things needed to get done. I wasn’t swimming as fast as I was on day three as I was swimming on day one, just from the time of the year it was we were close to our resting period, our taper. I mean, you are close, that is all you can really think about at that point because you're just so beat up and exhausted mentally and physically. But, the best thing you can do is to keep in mind that those around you are going through the exact same thing, the same emotions, and to just…you know, there's nothing wrong with acknowledging that you're tired or that you are exhausted. The issue becomes when it is spread out amongst the team, when you start to vocalize your discomfort and your displeasure for things that are happening. It's like putting poison on water and it is going to spread out a little bit.
So, for two years I was team captain and I feel like my biggest role was that, especially as you get towards the end of the season people start disliking one another I mean you are spending so much time with each other and I mean nothing against anyone, we all love each other, but you know six months with anyone twice a day for a couple of hours each time is a lot of time to spend with anyone. So you have to learn how to work together and learn how to take care of each other and support each other and that’s the best part of being on the team is that you have teammates who are experiencing most of the same things that you are. And I mean, like I said earlier, there is nothing wrong with acknowledging how you feel, but there's a time and place for it but you also have to realize that you have a job to do, things need to get done and I think if anything, that is where you can separate the strong form the weak, so to speak.
I remember hearing somewhere that of the top 10 tennis players in the world, they are all equally as good skill wise and what separates them are their mental abilities to perform, and that's sort of where I believe as a team we could be somewhere. We talk about these things, we talked about being mentally strong. I remember our first years on the team we would go see a sports psychologist once a week or so and he would go over the basic principles and would expand on quite a few things and he would acknowledge diversity within the group and we would all acknowledge it. I mean some of his perceptions such as I might see things one way and a teammate might see the same thing differently. So, you have to keep in mind that just because you're seeing and feeling things one way does not necessarily mean that the entire team is receiving it the same way you are. And So, you need to keep all these things in mind and it is a lot. That is why you have to rely on your coaches and your teammates to get through it all.
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