When we tap into these things we will be better performers.
Some of the things we do may seem odd to a few of you. Others are not very odd when you think about it. Why doesn't everyone do this? I have no idea....
One of the first things that we teach the youngest swimmers at T2 is how to read the heat sheet (or meet program). This is where you find out which heat and lane you are in. This is where you find out when you should start your race preparation. When you should talk to your coach. When you should go behind the blocks. Even the youngest swimmers on T2 can read this program. There will surely be mistakes made in this process - but we will all learn. With a caring support system the swimmers will gain more and more confidence with understanding what goes on at a swim meet. Our youngest athletes can be proud of yet another new skill improved or mastered.
Over the years at swim meets I have heard coaches barking commands "Johnny - Go up NOW!" or coaches taking swimmers by the hand and leading them behind the blocks and placing them in line by the timers. Obviously those swimmers are not being put in empowering situations. Are they losing confidence? Or just not gaining any? I am not sure....
I have seen swimmers with writing scribbled on the back of their hands - or on their arm - or on their leg.... and I just have never gotten it. Why? If it says that I am in event 4, heat 1, lane 6 - great. What event is before event 4? Is it 3? Not always! What if the events skip around? What if no one entered event 3? What if there is only one heat of event 3? What if there are 100 heats of event 3? The only way to find out how long until your event is looking at the meet program!
A wise T2 swimmer once told me that when you have the event/heat/lane on your arm that it actually causes more stress and more anxiety because you are constantly looking at it. They were totally right! It's staring you in the face. You can't get away from it. What should you do? You should read the program, be confident, and go behind the blocks.
T2 Aquatics has had amazing team spirit at meets. Teammates are often found lining the edge of the pool screaming and waving for their teammates in the water or behind the blocks. This shows support for the swimmer in the water. This shows that we are behind them. This sometimes helps them get that little extra that they may need to win a race, or swim a great time. We have all seen it happen. Cheering also makes the swim meet more fun as a spectator. How many times have we been cheering and laughing about something? Good times making a "bridge" for the younger swimmers. Putting our arms up and yelling "WOOOSH!" when the starter goes off. Yelling out funny nicknames of the swimmers on the blocks....
Let's continue to put down the itouches, ipods, ipads, iphones for a few seconds and enjoy your teammates racing. Maybe you will learn something. Maybe you can support them - and they will return the favor.
What does it mean to be ready as a T2 swimmer?
What did you pack? You do not need to pack a suitcase, but you do need a few things.
- Drink - Water/Gatorade
- Snacks- Fruit, Crackers, Bagel, Granola Bar
- Towels - You probably need two
- Clothes - Even at indoor meets we should be totally clothed. (more on this later)
- Shoes - Flipflops are not shoes
- Cap/Goggles - You probably need a back up
- Suit - You probably need a warm up suit (also your back up) and a racing suit
- Bag - ALL of your stuff goes in here!
While teaching many of our younger swimmers in Clearwater about what to wear at a meet it was awesome to be able to turn around and see many of the older T2 swimmers fully clothed. Socks and shoes on. Pants, T shirts, Sweatshirts AND parkas on! This was INSIDE! Behind the blocks, all of that stuff is still on! Why would you stay warm and then 5 minutes prior to your race take it all off and get cold again? Who knows.... The best swimmers stay warm the entire meet. Don't believe me? Pay attention and watch. Ever see swimmers on TV (or in person) at bigger meets parade out prior to the event. They are always fully clothed aren't they?
There are many things that we can control. There are many things that we can not control. Throughout the season we will go through many different situations at practices and meets. These experiences will help us be prepared for ANYTHING. Swim meets can be chaotic at times. Coaches can be yelling. Spectators can be cheering. There can be delays in the meet - sometimes at the most inopportune times. Being flexible will help us stay cool in seemingly stressful times.
Being aware, being ready, being warm, being flexible - these will help you be relaxed at a swim meet. Stay away from stressful situations. Roll with the punches and deal with what you were dealt. We will all be better for it in the end. This is a process of learning over weeks, months, and years. It takes practice. Let's get better.
Let's be self reliant. Let's be prepared. Let's eliminate distractions. Let's swim fast.