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FindingMyInnerFish
December 14th, 2014, 08:05 PM
Well, I'll give you the spoiler first--I did manage to swim two events beating my (admittedly conservative) seed times. And I met someone who put the whole thing in perspective--a cancer survivor.

That said, when this kind of thing happens, all the perspective in the world sometimes doesn't stop it. And it feels very scary to have this happen amid strangers. Fortunately, another swimmer saw that I was in distress and helped me get calm. And bless him for it!

I had missed an event I had planned to swim, and typically I like to get going as early in a meet as possible so I'm not just waiting and getting anxious. Having missed my event, I had a lot of bottled up nerves. There was a break after my event during which I was able to continue a warm-up, but not for long enough to really calm down. After the swimming started up again, I was feeling so close to melt-down that I wanted to just get away from the whole scene and forget the meet. But I also didn't partly because I'd already paid for it, partly because what would I tell my coach if I skipped out?

Fortunately, there was a longer break before my next event, and I had some more time to swim, which also helped.

When it was time for my next event, I was relieved mainly to be on deck and ready to go. At that point I didn't even care what my time would be. I just wanted to be there.

And swimming the race though hard physically was calming mentally. After that, things went smoothly enough and I swam the next event w/out incident.

A couple things might have been in play here: I'd just run hard the day before in a cross-country race. I didn't think that would affect me b/c the distance was relatively short. Also, I'm sloooooooow. Watching the other swimmers, I began thinking, "what am I even doing here?? These people have earned their right to swim in meets. I haven't." (This wasn't a championship meet, but people were turning in pretty fast times--way faster than anything I could do.) If I'd done that one I missed, even though the times were a lot faster than the one I'd entered as a seed time, at least I'd have done it and broken the ice, as it were.

In retrospect, yes, much good, but if I'm to swim in more meets (I've done them before--but it's been a while), I need to prevent this kind of anxiety so I'm focused on my swim and not on the nerves. So, note to self--1. Don't miss events; 2. This too will pass; 3. Don't worry about what other swimmers are doing; 4. Perspective.

Also I need to get faster. Yes, 2:03 for 100 free was better than my seed time of 2:09. But I still felt like a sore thumb when everyone else was doing sub-1:30 or sub-1:00 (although I didn't worry too much about the sub-1:00 people who are in a whole other class). This is what got me wondering if I had any right to be there. Yet my goal is to make a cut-off of an open water swim that I have my eyes on, so whatever way I can improve my speed, I need to do it. Interestingly, I don't get the nerves in o.w. swimming or in running events that I did in this meet. I think it's because the former two are in more spacious settings, allowing for more warm-up, more movement, less waiting. I seem also to do okay when there's a separate warm-up pool--but very enclosed, crowded situations feel foreign, since I didn't swim meets or participate on a team as a kid.

Okay, 'nuff said! I'm looking to move forward, yet also need a strategy to keep me calm in situations like this. I left the meet certain I'd NEVER do another meet. But I won't let this experience put me off them. Just wondering if others have had similar experiences--and how have you dealt with them?

orca1946
December 14th, 2014, 10:17 PM
HEY !! This is supposed to be FUN! I have missed events cuz I was talking when the heat went off!!LOL

FindingMyInnerFish
December 14th, 2014, 11:45 PM
HEY !! This is supposed to be FUN! I have missed events cuz I was talking when the heat went off!!LOL

Definitely--might have just been one of those mental "perfect storms" or something. Yesterday, at the xc race, which was a championship event, someone asked if I was nervous. I thought "Was I supposed to be?" I wasn't at all and in fact it looked like a fun adventure on a new course--and although it was a team event, my team had some faster people who likely would help the score--everyone was welcome, regardless of speed, and on the car ride to the meet, we were laughing at everything and anything--all very loose, excited! I'd been looking forward to the swim meet so I don't know how I could feel so unhinged. There was even LESS pressure to perform than there was yesterday--just a workout, I told myself.

Allen Stark
December 15th, 2014, 12:13 AM
First,physiologically, anxiety and excitemental are identical, it all depends on how you contextualize it.
I find visualizing the event over and over helps me focus and keep my "excitement" at manageable levels.

DeniseMW
December 15th, 2014, 08:29 AM
You may have been overtired from the day before, and didn't give your body enough time to recover. Fatigue feeds anxiety.

However, FMIF, being a stage actor, I can tell you pre-event/show nerves can get to you even if you know your cues and are very good at what you do. Some of the most famous actors still get stage fright. Not that I'm one of them LOL, but anxiety is a natural part of stepping outside your comfort zone, even when you think you're in it. Next meet, rest the day before, erase all expectations from your thought process, and go out there and have fun.

Swimspire
December 15th, 2014, 09:36 AM
One great way to reduce anxiety and keep your nerves under control is to develop a pre-race routine. Pre-race can mean either just before your event or even the day before. Having a set of steps that you go through before each meet or each event can help settle you down. This is a great article by sports psychologist Jennifer Lager that goes into more details: http://www.swimspire.com/reign-nerves-improve-performance-pre-race-routine/

Glenn
December 15th, 2014, 12:34 PM
FMIF,

Congratulations on beating your seed time. That is an accomplishment. Celebrate that! Enjoy it. Feel good about it.

Being nervous is a part of competition. That is part of what gets the body ready to race. Too much of it can also ruin a race. I have been competing in Masters for over 35 years. I still get nervous before a race. A little less nervous at a small local meet, or when swimming an off stroke, but still nervous. It's normal.

I learned a very good lesson in '06 when Worlds were held at Stanford. It was my first Worlds and I wanted to do well. I was entered in the 400 free, my best event. I was going over the race in my head a few hours before. On the way to the venue I got myself in a tizzy to such an extent, that I had a terrible race! I had left my race in the car. I made a promise to myself that that would NEVER happen again.

Part of what made me not have such a melt down ever again was the realization that no matter how nervous I feel before a race, I know that when I hit the water, I will feel calm. Why? Because I love the feeling of being in the water and doing a movement in the water that I have done thousands of times and know very well how to do. Regardless of the time I do, while racing, my body knows exactly what to do because it does it everyday.

Regardless of your speed, the fact that you are treating your body well by exercising, no matter if it is running or swimming, is a very big deal. Look around at our fellow citizens and see how many are obese and how many do not exercise at all! The fact that you are out there is great! Acknowledge that and be proud of that.

One last point. Masters is all-inclusive. No one cares if you are fast or slow. You can be the slowest person and do your best time and be thrilled or you could be the fastest person and do a lousy time and be disappointed. So those sub 1:00 people may be disappointed in their time even though you would be overjoyed to swim sub 1:00. It's a matter of perspective.

I just read your second paragraph again. In it you say that it was "scary to have this happen amid strangers". Then in the next sentence you say that another swimmer helped you get calm. That doesn't sound like you were among strangers to me! That sounds like you were among friends. You may not have known any of their names, but they were not strangers. They were doing the same activity you were doing and as such were kindred spirits and therefore "friends".

FindingMyInnerFish
December 15th, 2014, 02:29 PM
Thank you all for the great comments!

Visualizing--Allen, I did that a lot for my long swim back in August, and it helped a lot. Even when I got seasick, I knew I'd be fine to finish, if not comfortable.

Stage fright--Denise, I think there is such a center stage feeling with swimming at a meet that doesn't happen out in the open. Odd, though--I've been in situations where I have to speak in front of people and while I won't say I'm not a bit nervous in those situations, I can usually do what I need to do. But the outside the comfort zone thing and the being tired from the day before (I didn't think I was all that tired, but the body's doing stuff behind the scenes that doesn't show up right away) no doubt did add up. But I'm not regretting the doubled up competition weekend. That xc meet was such a blast, it was probably worth the anxiety the next day, strangely enough, as I think of it.

Swimspire--I'll have a look at the article you posted as soon as I put this semester to bed, as it were! It sounds interesting! Glenn, so you know what I was dealing with. And I know what you mean about once you get going. I noticed that in both the events I did--as soon as I hit the water, it was just another 100 repeat in masters practice. (I chose to take my dive off the side--next meet, I'm aiming to get back on the block again, but decided to handle one fear at a time.) During the breaks when we could warm up, I also felt better, but somehow there's nothing like anaerobic effort to put my mind at rest (since I just can't think and breathe hard at the same time). Once the first event was done, I was cool for the second one.

Yes, I think I can get too focused on being surrounded by strangers, but the swimmer who helped me is a good reminder that people are only strangers temporarily. I find that if I'm at an open water swim or a running event, even indoor track, I can step away (and outdoors during indoor track meets) to run, stretch, do some strides, get away by myself--harder to do that at a pool. But that's why I'll need to rethink strategies to keep me calm at pool events, so I can be there for other swimmers who need some comforting.

The year I ran the New York City Marathon (a long time ago in 1991), I remember they had a "psyching team" of sport psychologists volunteering to talk runners through any anxiety they might be feeling. I wasn't feeling any anxiety that day, just excitement and anticipation that I'd get to see New York City in a whole different way. But I went to their booth to thank them for being there. Maybe other races (on land or water) might try recruiting volunteers for just such a purpose. I'm no professional psychologist, but I'd volunteer in a heartbeat if I'm not participating.

orca1946
December 15th, 2014, 05:48 PM
Good, now that your psych session is finished - the bill will be $400 or 40 laps of fun swimming - you choose.

FindingMyInnerFish
December 15th, 2014, 11:38 PM
Good, now that your psych session is finished - the bill will be $400 or 40 laps of fun swimming - you choose.

Ha ha! It'll have to be the 40 laps--can't afford $400! :)

It'll actually be more than 40 laps b/c I have my masters practice tomorrow. I'll have fun for 40 of the who knows how many laps will be involved--have to decide which ones... thinking it'll be anything freestyle or pull buoy. Maybe I'll even manage to have some fun on the kickboard laps now that I have Zoomers--except our coach is trying to wean us off kickboards and doing streamline kicking instead. "Whatever doesn't kill you makes you stronger." Who knows--maybe I'll even progress to having fun on IM and stroke laps. ;)

Yes, I know--this sounds suspiciously like the triathletes you guys make fun of--except that 1. I don't do the biking so that maybe just makes me an "aquathlete" [?] and 2. the head coach of our group is a pro triathlete and his assistant, working with us while the head guy is out of town, is also a triathlete--and a marathon swimmer--and both of them are adamant about getting us to do the different strokes. I can't say I greet those sets with delight--but I'm getting to where I'm seeing them as "good for my soul." Or something. ;)

orca1946
December 31st, 2014, 12:00 PM
Always have fun in anything you do or it's WORK UGGGG!

FindingMyInnerFish
December 31st, 2014, 07:36 PM
Okay, you want to know about fun? One of my masters' swim teammates invited me to a polar bear plunge tomorrow. And ... wait for it ... I accepted. :worms: :shakeshead:

Bets accepted here. Will this inner fish find happiness in 30 degree air temp (God knows what water temp) without a wetsuit?

:drowning: ?

:anim_coffee: This before

:chug: This... after.

Wish me luck! After this, lots of things will seem easier. Not everything. But lots of things.

orca1946
January 6th, 2015, 11:38 AM
Water will be not less than 30 - I hope!

FindingMyInnerFish
January 6th, 2015, 02:00 PM
37 I'm told. Not bad. I was mentally prepared for it, had warm things for before and after and was kept warm too by the hilarious insanity of the venture. One recommendation: a sandy beach is likely a better venue for this kind of thing. Muddy footing and very murky water made staying in longer than it took for a quick dunk underwater somewhat uninviting. Still fun in a bucket list sort of way. ;) Also if one does choose a muddy area for such a plunge, best to wear an old swimsuit. That said, sampling water that temp will make this coming May open water swims feel so toasty (60something degrees? No problem! And no wetsuit!)

ande
January 8th, 2015, 01:21 PM
Find Your inner Fish
Get in the zen zone
It's just swimming.
Swimming is healthy and fun.
Swimming fast is funner.

When you're about to race, just get up and do you best.
Have fun.
Let the outcome be what it is, I hope you improve, if not, what did you learn?

FindingMyInnerFish
January 8th, 2015, 04:38 PM
Well said, Ande! Mostly that's where I am. Just for some reason, I wasn't there that one meet. Looking to do a couple more in the next few weeks.

Funny thing is, I have just about no nerves before running events and I'm often the slowest person in those settings too. But then again, I've been running for so many years, the race warm-up and preparation are second nature. Even for open water swims, I feel pretty comfortable for the most part--not the sense of being surrounded by an audience. But perhaps the way to do this is to enjoy the audience, feed on the cheers, even if they're for someone else. And now, off to swim practice!

tpost2
January 10th, 2015, 05:47 AM
Water will be not less than 30 - I hope!

Unless the plan is to do it David Blaine style...

"In New York's Times Square, Blaine spent a frigid 63 hours, 42 minutes and 15 seconds encased in a massive block of ice placed on an elevated platform, with tubes to feed him water." http://abcnews.go.com/Entertainment/david-blaine-enduring-performances/story?id=17398459#2

Carol Schemanske
January 10th, 2015, 09:09 AM
I've had similar experiences. I also am more comfortable in open water. I think the waiting for an event has a lot to do with it. I did actually scratch an event at a meet. It was my first 50 fly. Didn't want to disappoint the coach by scratching, but she was fine with it and understood my anxiety. It was probably the best thing I could have done. It took the pressure off and I did fine in the rest of my events; actually had best times for me in 2 events. I think I need to learn to set reasonable expectations for myself for now. When I have an event that is a challenge for me, I do try to do my best and make my seed time (or better), but if I start feeling anxious, I set my expectations a little lower and just finish. Do it 25 yards at a time if I have to. Just think about finishing. I'm sure that is what my coach and teammates would expect of me if I'm struggling. If I can just finish this race today (at any time) I can do better tomorrow. And like Orca said, this is supposed to be fun.

FindingMyInnerFish
January 15th, 2015, 12:26 AM
I've had similar experiences. I also am more comfortable in open water. I think the waiting for an event has a lot to do with it. I did actually scratch an event at a meet. It was my first 50 fly. Didn't want to disappoint the coach by scratching, but she was fine with it and understood my anxiety. It was probably the best thing I could have done. It took the pressure off and I did fine in the rest of my events; actually had best times for me in 2 events. I think I need to learn to set reasonable expectations for myself for now. When I have an event that is a challenge for me, I do try to do my best and make my seed time (or better), but if I start feeling anxious, I set my expectations a little lower and just finish. Do it 25 yards at a time if I have to. Just think about finishing. I'm sure that is what my coach and teammates would expect of me if I'm struggling. If I can just finish this race today (at any time) I can do better tomorrow. And like Orca said, this is supposed to be fun.

Well, I entered two swim meets taking place on 1/18 and 2/1. So I'm a glutton for punishment, apparently. ;)

One change I'm making: going with friends to the meet. Yes, there are wonderful people who will help if you need it, but the trip there with a friend can make such a difference! (Well, it did when I went to the polar plunge--that's not something I'd have gone to alone, but my crazy younger friend talked me into it and I think we all need crazy younger friends like that--though, sorry, tpost2, I don't think anyone is going to talk me into what this Blaine fellow tried). ;)

Other thing: the 2/1 meet offers 25 yard events in each stroke. Just for something different, I signed up for the 25 breaststroke. I'm guaranteed not to make it look pretty so giving it a try will be fun. (I'm not too great on other strokes besides free, and granted not awesome at free, but at least more experienced.) Since I expect nothing in the breaststroke, I have no pressure.

The 1/18 meet is meters (SCM)--and they asked for my age as of 12/31/15. On the one hand, I don't like what my times look like in meters. On the other hand, I go up an age group before 12/31, and being on the young end of an older age group works for me. So it balances out.

Kirstin
January 15th, 2015, 02:39 PM
Thanks for asking this, FindingMyInnerFish. I'm in the same...tank :blush:, and have not participated in any meets since joining masters. Maybe this will be the year that I finally dive in. It's hard on we shy folks! And I actually like competing - just not my competition times.

FindingMyInnerFish
January 16th, 2015, 03:24 PM
Thanks for asking this, FindingMyInnerFish. I'm in the same...tank :blush:, and have not participated in any meets since joining masters. Maybe this will be the year that I finally dive in. It's hard on we shy folks! And I actually like competing - just not my competition times.

It is hard when we're shy. I'm going to the next two meets with friends, and I think it'll be a very different experience. Going alone might be a great thing to do but when you're just getting into it (or getting back into it), probably better to come with a "posse." :) You know you'll have someone there to support you and cheer for you. If you live in the Philly area, here's one coming up that there's still time to enter:

http://www.dvmasters.org/pdf/2015/UMLY.pdf

If you decide to go to this one, you can PM me, and I'll introduce you to my crowd. They're good at cheering. :)