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moodyrichardson
March 30th, 2010, 09:56 PM
I was just wondering what you guys do for pre-meet jitters. I'm going to my second Master's Meet April 10 & 11th in Lexington, KY. I'm swimming my first backstroke events at this meet. Since I never was an age grouper, high school, or college swimmer, I tend to get really nervous the closer to a meet that I get. It's getting so bad this time, that it's getting to the point that I'm not having fun anymore. I've also started to dread going to practice and just swimming in general. Do any of you have advice? Any help would be appreciated.

That Guy
March 30th, 2010, 10:04 PM
"It's Masters. It's all good." - That Guy, used whenever in doubt of something. :agree:

craig68
March 30th, 2010, 11:47 PM
It would help if we knew specifically what you were nervous about. Can you put your finger on it? My first inclination is to think that there's absolutely no pressure because you don't have a swimming background, it's only your second meet, and you haven't done backstroke before. So, you can't possibly fail. You're guaranteed a best time! :)
Are you anxious about your performance (your time?) or about the logistics of getting into the water, keeping water out of your mouth and nose, etc.?
If you are concerned about your time, I would say to just try to set other goals totally unrelated to time. How about setting a goal like, "I'm going to meet 10 people at the upcoming meet"? I know it sounds corny, but it's working for me. I changed my attitude recently when I realized that I was missing out on the fun of meets by obsessing over a few tenths here or there. Now I'm having more fun, and actually swimming better in some events because I'm so relaxed.........

Allen Stark
March 31st, 2010, 12:56 AM
Good question as to what you are anxious about.Plan to have fun and meet people.From a performance stand point a little bit of butterflies in the stomach usually help.I'd recommend spending time visualizing the meet,not just your events.Visualize yourself having fun and being glad you came.Then go out and have fun.

__steve__
March 31st, 2010, 09:43 AM
Before the first event of my first meet (2 months ago) I developed some bad anxiety. My heart felt like it was ready to bust through my chest. I had to lay down and do breathing exercises which helped a little. Then the second event of the same meet was the opposite, I was too relaxed. I did PB in both because they were my first ones.

My second meet it happened again, 1st event panic attack, afterwards I'm fine. Did PB's in both events so I was happy.

Now my most recent, 3rd, meet I had no panic or anxiety whatsoever. This was because I arrived so late that the start horn for my 50 fr went off as I entered the building. I was too angry to be anxious about anything, but I did PB's in the two other events. After the meet I asked the director if I could get a 50 in just for time since I was late. They were happy to, and I got a PB.

If I still get the nerves at my next meet I'll have to figure out how to controll it because it does have a bad effect on my start. Being angry seems to work, perhaps listening to gangster rap or death metal after warm up might help me.

Jimbosback
March 31st, 2010, 10:29 AM
I was just wondering what you guys do for pre-meet jitters. I'm going to my second Master's Meet April 10 & 11th in Lexington, KY. I'm swimming my first backstroke events at this meet. Since I never was an age grouper, high school, or college swimmer, I tend to get really nervous the closer to a meet that I get. It's getting so bad this time, that it's getting to the point that I'm not having fun anymore. I've also started to dread going to practice and just swimming in general. Do any of you have advice? Any help would be appreciated.

Deep breaths, music you like, and a lot of positive visualization as part of training. At a meet, it also helps to have someone to BS with so you're not just sitting around thinking about the things you're anxious about.
(These are things a baseball coach taught me a long time ago.)

moodyrichardson
March 31st, 2010, 11:37 AM
It would help if we knew specifically what you were nervous about. Can you put your finger on it? My first inclination is to think that there's absolutely no pressure because you don't have a swimming background, it's only your second meet, and you haven't done backstroke before. So, you can't possibly fail. You're guaranteed a best time! :)
Are you anxious about your performance (your time?) or about the logistics of getting into the water, keeping water out of your mouth and nose, etc.?
If you are concerned about your time, I would say to just try to set other goals totally unrelated to time. How about setting a goal like, "I'm going to meet 10 people at the upcoming meet"? I know it sounds corny, but it's working for me. I changed my attitude recently when I realized that I was missing out on the fun of meets by obsessing over a few tenths here or there. Now I'm having more fun, and actually swimming better in some events because I'm so relaxed.........


I've always suffered from performance anxiety all my life. I'm a perfectionist too. It also makes me nervous doing anything in front of a group of people (stage fright?) It has gotten SO much better, since I've become an adult but is now rearing its ugly head again. Logically, I know in my head that everyone has to have a first meet, but that doesn't seem to help me much.

I am anxious about my performance and time. I'm also really anxious, because I feel unprepared. I wasn't planning on going to this meet, until my coach begged at the last minute. I haven't had much practice starting off the blocks, and that makes me nervous. The meet is in a week, and I just started backstroke starts yesterday.

I'm actually wondering today, if I should skip this meet and just keep working toward my events at Nationals. Thoughts?

aquageek
March 31st, 2010, 11:46 AM
There's no substitute for racing experience. I wouldn't skip.

Speedo
March 31st, 2010, 11:52 AM
I've always suffered from performance anxiety all my life. I'm a perfectionist too. It also makes me nervous doing anything in front of a group of people (stage fright?) It has gotten SO much better, since I've become an adult but is now rearing its ugly head again. Logically, I know in my head that everyone has to have a first meet, but that doesn't seem to help me much.

I am anxious about my performance and time. I'm also really anxious, because I feel unprepared. I wasn't planning on going to this meet, until my coach begged at the last minute. I haven't had much practice starting off the blocks, and that makes me nervous. The meet is in a week, and I just started backstroke starts yesterday.

I'm actually wondering today, if I should skip this meet and just keep working toward my events at Nationals. Thoughts?
Masters is very different than age group swimming. Everyone wants to see you do well (even your competitors) and they are quick with a word of support if you don't. Have a great time, and go to the meet- it will be worth 5 practices.

Bobinator
March 31st, 2010, 11:53 AM
No don't skip the meet, use it for practice for Nationals!
Try to think of the worst thing that could possibly happen. If it did indeed happen "what would you do?" "What would other people do?" "Is it really that bad?"

This summer was my 1st National Meet. I was seeded LAST in the 200 Freestyle(I'm not sure why I entered it?) I arrived way too early for the meet and sat around all day and worried. When the event finally arrived my friend Jimby walked me up to the blocks and interviewed me with his flip camera. I hopped up at the last minute to start. I dove in and my googles rolled and completely filled with water. I stopped, fixed them and then swam a terrible 200 Free. Pretty dreadful huh.
Well the truth is I found the whole thing very funny! I finished last. We all chuckled about my bad swim and that was it. No one made fun of me or excluded me from anything because I was a loser. I ended up doing well in my other events(pr in the 1500), meeting lots of amazing people, and having the time of my life.
Do not let your worries get in the way of your potential. Go out on a limb and let yourself live a little on the edge. If you screw up remember, the best lessons are the ones learned from mistakes!

HAVE FUN!!!! BE FIT!!!!!!!!

aquageek
March 31st, 2010, 12:05 PM
No don't skip the meet, use it for practice for Nationals!
Try to think of the worst thing that could possibly happen. If it did indeed happen "what would you do?" "What would other people do?" "Is it really that bad?"

Right on, Bobinator! This is kind of my rallying cry, what is the worst that can happen? So far, the worst that has happened was running into a duck turd in an open water race, losing to Fort in the 100 back and having to suffer with zipping up wookie's suit at a meet. While all that is pretty bad, it's not life threatening. I also think it flows - you do one thing out of your comfort zone, you might discover a whole new sport you like or have the confidence to do another thing.

ande
March 31st, 2010, 12:12 PM
STOP IT,
Jitters do you no good until right before your race.

Before the meet arrives,
prepare to race your events.

When you are at the meet,
warm up,
get ready for your events
be prepared for your events,
then get up and race your events.

Leave swimming in the pool, stay busy with the other aspects of your life.

Have fun. It's just swimming.

ande


I was just wondering what you guys do for pre-meet jitters. I'm going to my second Master's Meet April 10 & 11th in Lexington, KY. I'm swimming my first backstroke events at this meet. Since I never was an age grouper, high school, or college swimmer, I tend to get really nervous the closer to a meet that I get. It's getting so bad this time, that it's getting to the point that I'm not having fun anymore. I've also started to dread going to practice and just swimming in general. Do any of you have advice? Any help would be appreciated.

Michael Blatt
March 31st, 2010, 12:13 PM
I was just wondering what you guys do for pre-meet jitters. I'm going to my second Master's Meet April 10 & 11th in Lexington, KY. I'm swimming my first backstroke events at this meet. Since I never was an age grouper, high school, or college swimmer, I tend to get really nervous the closer to a meet that I get. It's getting so bad this time, that it's getting to the point that I'm not having fun anymore. I've also started to dread going to practice and just swimming in general. Do any of you have advice? Any help would be appreciated.

I think there's some very good advice here for getting rid of the jitters using different mental approaches and breathing exercises. A physical approach that has worked for me in the past was getting into the warm up lane/pool just a few minutes before my race and swimming a very easy 50 or 100. It seemed to take just enough of the edge off, without completely erasing the good part of that excitement most of us feel before a race.

I'd also urge you to swim these preliminary meets before nationals. Practicing racing is important, and it will allow you to work on a pre-race routine that is successful for you.

Good luck!

knelson
March 31st, 2010, 12:20 PM
I am anxious about my performance and time. I'm also really anxious, because I feel unprepared.
...
I'm actually wondering today, if I should skip this meet and just keep working toward my events at Nationals. Thoughts?

I think you should do it. You can actually use your perceived unpreparedness to your advantage. Use the meet as an experience gathering exercise for Nationals. Just get in and swim your best and don't even worry about your times. Think about this meet purely as practice for Nationals.

As far as tackling jitters, I do think visualization helps. Every night when you get in bed vizualize yourself swimming a perfect race. Yes, negative thoughts will creep into your mind from time-to-time, but use this time to focus on the positive.

jseteroff
March 31st, 2010, 12:27 PM
You know I'm going through a similar thing. This Saturday is the Ohio State Masters Championship, and I'm swimming the 200 Back for the first time in my life. While I'm confortable with the 100 back, I've never raced anything longer than a hundred. There are three things that have helped me get over the jitters though.

1. We swim distances greater that 200s every day.
2. I swim because its fun, doesn't matter what place I come in.
3. Once the race starts, its only me and the water, and we're good friends.

Basically, if you have swum backstroke in practice, you can do it during a meet. Swimming to set records or win the race is the quickest way to burnout. you have to swim for your self.

"It's easy to forget when you're an elite athlete that everyone else gets nervous as well. Even the best people in the world, at whatever they do, they're still nervous".
Leisl Jones - world record breaker at the 2005 World Championships

ande
March 31st, 2010, 12:27 PM
Make yourself believe you cancelled the meet, so you'd have nothing to be jittery about, then show up and swim. don't get jittery with it till the ref blows the whistile & you step up on the block

aquageek
March 31st, 2010, 12:45 PM
Swimming to set records or win the race is the quickest way to burnout. you have to swim for your self.

Really? Says who? We all swim for our own reasons. I personally don't swim with losing as my goal, although it does frequently happen.

knelson
March 31st, 2010, 01:00 PM
Really? Says who?

Seconded. These types of things are what motivate me to get my butt in the water day in and day out.

__steve__
March 31st, 2010, 01:55 PM
I haven't had much practice starting off the blocks, and that makes me nervous.
Then start in the water. Inform them first though.

The first meet is a good way to get baseline times to the 1/100ths of a second, dont skip out dude.

orca1946
March 31st, 2010, 02:00 PM
First - have fun !!! Then when you feel better about meets work on pre race ideas to help you swim faster .

Bobinator
March 31st, 2010, 03:16 PM
Hi moody!!
I think I may come to this meet! I need another chance in the 1650 Free. I missed my goal time by 4 seconds last week-end at master's state and I want another try. I will look around and try to find you. Maybe my soothing, zen-like state will help to calm you down. (jk, I am a hyper-crazy person) but you still might like me! :angel:

jseteroff
March 31st, 2010, 04:23 PM
Really? Says who? We all swim for our own reasons. I personally don't swim with losing as my goal, although it does frequently happen.

I think you misunderstood what I meant. or at least the reasoning behind it. I never swim to lose either, but it happens frequently. I swim to better my time, and my records. I hope that means I win every race, and set the top times. But if the only reason I swim is to set a record or win a race, and not because I love it, what happens when I lose?

ElaineK
March 31st, 2010, 05:39 PM
Cheryl, I know EXACTLY what you're going through! As you know, I was in my first meet this past weekend- since 1979! I was quite nervous going into my first event, the 200 breaststroke (We did 100's in high school, so I never had competed in the 200.) :afraid:

I can tell you from this recent experience, there is NOTHING like the feeling of finishing that first race and knowing you SURVIVED- and enjoyed it! And, yes, you WILL survive! :D You will feel a great sense of satisfaction and be so happy you didn't let yourself down by not meeting this challenge.

The second day of the meet was a blast for me. I enjoyed meeting other swimmers and managed to rope the only three other swimmers from my team into doing a relay. We had exactly two women and two men, so I signed us up for the relay without two of them knowing. Then, the swimmer who I talked into it and I broke the news to the other two. We ended up having a great time, working our way from 6th place (after back) to 5th (I passed a breaststroker), then up to 3rd by the end. High five's all around and it was FUN! I ended up leaving the meet feeling great.

I recommend getting yourself on a relay team and being the ringleader like I was. I fired them up before we hit the water and we were all having a great time by the end. We just had FUN with it and did not take it seriously. It's a great opportunity to practice your 50 backstroke and a fun way to get to know some other swimmers.

The best advice I got when I arrived at the St. Pat's meet and signed in was, "HAVE FUN!" Since I'm one who tends to take things (too) seriously, it was the best advice to take to heart. I took things too seriously on the high school team (winning me the "Worry Award" at the team banquet...), so this is my chance for a do-over. And, I really AM having fun.

I'll be looking for you at Nationals and we can help each other get the jitters out of our system. OK? Goooo Cheryl! :cheerleader:

want2beafish
March 31st, 2010, 09:00 PM
You've received some very good advice. I can totally understand where you're coming from, being a bit of a perfectionist who suffers from performance anxiety. I always have. I do think that severe anxiety can impede performance, but mild anxiety can actually improve it. I find that if I'm TOO relaxed, I don't do as well. My meet warm-up helps to dissipate a lot of the dysfunctional worry, but I'm still able to keep the mild stuff that helps the adrenaline surge. It hightens awareness and focus. I've actually learned to welcome the jitters, as long as they're not too bad! :)

Couroboros
March 31st, 2010, 11:47 PM
Lately, I've taken to imagining myself as the starship Enterprise before meets.

You know that scene in the new Star Trek movie where the Enterprise is leaving dock for the first time and all those ships make those really cool, resonating noises right when they go into warp?

Yeah.

That really amps you up.

Just a cool-ass starship waiting in a space dock, until...


WHOOSH!!!

I agree with ande, only scale up the nerves right before you go to warp- I mean, right before you step up on the blocks.

edit: oh, and how can I forget the silvery acceleration handle that Mr. Sulu uses to go to warp? Imagine you've got a hand on that and you're pushing it forward every time you want to accelerate. Complete with cool engine noises.

moodyrichardson
April 1st, 2010, 12:27 PM
I just can't believe how much good advice that you all are giving!! Thank you all SO much for the advice, encouragment, and ideas. I'm still weighing the decision to compete at this meet. I'll be coming off of a 14 day work week with no rest, and driving the 5 hours to make the meet. I do think lack of rest has been the reason for a LOT of my anxiety. I'm just crossing my fingers for now and holding on for the ride.

Ande~I'd love to use the anxiety to my advantage. Tamping it down, before the meet is what I'm having difficulty doing right now.

Elaine~You have been such motivation and encouragement to me. This will be my first "official" meet EVER!! I never did any age group, HS, or college swimming.

Bobinator~Hopefully, I'll see you there!

Couroboros~I'm actually more of a Star Wars fan myself. Can I make lightsaber noises and X-Wing fighter noises instead? After the race, I'm sure everyone will hear my Darth Vader breathing impressions:eek:

ElaineK
April 1st, 2010, 12:57 PM
Elaine~You have been such motivation and encouragement to me. This will be my first "official" meet EVER!! I never did any age group, HS, or college swimming.
The only competitive swimming I did in the past was in high school. And, I never was really coached, because our "coach" was a P.E. teacher who got stuck with the swim team. (At least, I think that's what happened, because we found out she didn't even KNOW how to swim, when we threw her in the pool at the end of the season and she panicked getting to the side of the pool!) Needless to say, I never got proper stroke instruction (or any other worthwhile instruction, for that matter...)

So, Cheryl, we're (almost) in the same boat! But, now, we have these forums and our fellow forumites for advice, Ande with his great tips (and advice:applaud:), Swimmer Magazine, You Tube videos, and all sorts of great books and videos available for us to access. Isn't it awesome? :D

floswimmer
April 1st, 2010, 09:59 PM
I hope this makes you laugh....this is something I was inspired to write after participating in the Colonies Zone Championships in NY:
On Saturday, December 5, 2009, I participated in the above meet and suffered pre-meet neurotic disorder. The three mental exercises I use to cope with this are the following.

Excuses: On the colonies zone meet entry it was stated that this would be the last meet where high tech suits would be allowed. Of course, in my state of anxiety, I pictured my self being the only one wearing a Speedo from Modells. Here I was "Speedy Gonzalez" seeded last in the 400 meters. My excuse for this: OOOoops, mistakenly, I had to export my Mercedes to Germany for repairs and forgot that I had locked my high tech suit in the trunk of the car. (Truth is, I drive a 1998 Honda CRV with 160,000+ miles and will keep it going as long as I can to avoid car payments and help finance my swim habit.)

Visualization(?): Now, why the heck would I put myself through the agony of swimming the 400? All I could think of was the opening to the "Wide World of Sports" - the thrill of winning and the agony of defeat." Well, I'm a Nurse and I've been taught that the feeling of "impending doom" is usually what people feel before a code is called. When I swim longer distances instead of sprints, my pace is slower and I don't get that feeling of "impending doom" due to oxygen deprivation. I need to practice visualization to re-program my mind to get through the sprints so impending doom,for me, won't mean getting a crash cart. Here's where aromatherapy can help to mimic reality: I'll relax, lie on my couch with an open bottle of Clorox next to me with the water running in the sink while I visualize.

Fantasy: To deal with intimidation ( I have to say that in my experience some local top notch swimmers look at swimmers like myself with disdain...) My fantasy about this: when those arrogant so and so's are in the "get set" position to dive off the block, I step on a whoopee cushion to make the sound of one big fart (music therapy). Geeeeez some comraderie!!! I watch them with awe and admiration, as do other slower swimmers. What's this about?

Oh, and I forgot about prayer: I happened to be on the deck when from behind me, I heard someone ask "would you like a US Masters Swim Cap?" I turned around, looked up and recognized that it was Rob Butcher, an archangel flown in from USMS headquarters. All I could do was blurt out, "I'm a slow swimmer." His response was that "there are no slow swimmers here." I thought "WOW" and felt grateful for the encouragement.

I hope this helps you with your pre-meet jitters.....You're not alone...Keep on Swimmin'....Keep a Sense of Humor:banana:

moodyrichardson
April 2nd, 2010, 04:03 PM
Flowswimmer~ THOSE ARE HYSTERICAL!!! Thanks so much for the humor and encouragement!!:rofl:



I hope this makes you laugh....this is something I was inspired to write after participating in the Colonies Zone Championships in NY:
On Saturday, December 5, 2009, I participated in the above meet and suffered pre-meet neurotic disorder. The three mental exercises I use to cope with this are the following.

Excuses: On the colonies zone meet entry it was stated that this would be the last meet where high tech suits would be allowed. Of course, in my state of anxiety, I pictured my self being the only one wearing a Speedo from Modells. Here I was "Speedy Gonzalez" seeded last in the 400 meters. My excuse for this: OOOoops, mistakenly, I had to export my Mercedes to Germany for repairs and forgot that I had locked my high tech suit in the trunk of the car. (Truth is, I drive a 1998 Honda CRV with 160,000+ miles and will keep it going as long as I can to avoid car payments and help finance my swim habit.)

Visualization(?): Now, why the heck would I put myself through the agony of swimming the 400? All I could think of was the opening to the "Wide World of Sports" - the thrill of winning and the agony of defeat." Well, I'm a Nurse and I've been taught that the feeling of "impending doom" is usually what people feel before a code is called. When I swim longer distances instead of sprints, my pace is slower and I don't get that feeling of "impending doom" due to oxygen deprivation. I need to practice visualization to re-program my mind to get through the sprints so impending doom,for me, won't mean getting a crash cart. Here's where aromatherapy can help to mimic reality: I'll relax, lie on my couch with an open bottle of Clorox next to me with the water running in the sink while I visualize.

Fantasy: To deal with intimidation ( I have to say that in my experience some local top notch swimmers look at swimmers like myself with disdain...) My fantasy about this: when those arrogant so and so's are in the "get set" position to dive off the block, I step on a whoopee cushion to make the sound of one big fart (music therapy). Geeeeez some comraderie!!! I watch them with awe and admiration, as do other slower swimmers. What's this about?

Oh, and I forgot about prayer: I happened to be on the deck when from behind me, I heard someone ask "would you like a US Masters Swim Cap?" I turned around, looked up and recognized that it was Rob Butcher, an archangel flown in from USMS headquarters. All I could do was blurt out, "I'm a slow swimmer." His response was that "there are no slow swimmers here." I thought "WOW" and felt grateful for the encouragement.

I hope this helps you with your pre-meet jitters.....You're not alone...Keep on Swimmin'....Keep a Sense of Humor:banana:

floswimmer
April 2nd, 2010, 08:52 PM
Glad you liked it!!!!!! I purchased a whoopie cushion at Pier 1 while Christmas Shopping!!!!! I started swimming in meets in my 40's!!!!:applaud::applaud:

jmkregor
April 26th, 2010, 07:09 PM
Hi Cheryl,
How'd it go in Lexington for you? Hope you had a lot of fun, and liked the t-shirts.
I swim in Lexington with the Wildcats, and when I first started going to swim meets, we said our goals were to:
1) have fun, and
2) get a t-shirt. Hope you met those goals! kregor

ElaineK
April 26th, 2010, 07:18 PM
Ditto that question from me, too, Cheryl! Hey, I guarantee you that it DOES get better at your second meet. I just went to my second Masters meet last weekend and felt a lot better about it. It was just a developmental meet and more layed back- and I still had some pre-meet jitters. BUT, once the first race was over, it was much better the rest of the day. I improved my times, too, which, of course, made it even BETTER! :D

Now, I know I'll probably be a bit anxious at Nationals with the butterflies flying, but hey, we have nowhere to go but up, right? That's the nice thing about being seeded in the slowest heat. :blush: (Do you like the positive spin I'm putting on it???)

I'm looking forward to meeting you at Nationals! :cheerleader:

Bobinator
April 26th, 2010, 08:08 PM
Sorry Moodyrichardson I was not there.
I cracked 3 ribs earlier in the week and had to take a hiatus from swimming. I hope the meet went well for you!
Hope to meet you some day!

bobinator:agree:

floswimmer
April 26th, 2010, 08:11 PM
Ditto that question from me, too, Cheryl! Hey, I guarantee you that it DOES get better at your second meet. I just went to my second Masters meet last weekend and felt a lot better about it. It was just a developmental meet and more layed back- and I still had some pre-meet jitters. BUT, once the first race was over, it was much better the rest of the day. I improved my times, too, which, of course, made it even BETTER! :D

Now, I know I'll probably be a bit anxious at Nationals with the butterflies flying, but hey, we have nowhere to go but up, right? That's the nice thing about being seeded in the slowest heat. :blush: (Do you like the positive spin I'm putting on it???)

I'm looking forward to meeting you at Nationals! :cheerleader:
That's so awesome you're going to Nationals!!!!!!! I wish you all the best of luck and FUN:D It takes a lot of guts!!!! I applaud you:applaud:

ElaineK
April 26th, 2010, 09:38 PM
That's so awesome you're going to Nationals!!!!!!! I wish you all the best of luck and FUN:D It takes a lot of guts!!!! I applaud you:applaud:

Thanks, Evelyn! I figured, what the heck; I'm 48 years old and long past those high school days where I cared too much about what other people thought of me. If others don't think I belong at Nationals, that's their problem! :agree: But, isn't Masters all about inclusion, having fun, and being waaaaaaay past all that @$*&??? To me, it's a second chance at swimming and doing it in a much more enjoyable way than when I was in high school worrying about the coach, my teammates, beating the other school, etc. :D

Will you be joining us??? :)