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Ian Smith
February 1st, 2002, 11:46 AM
The old discussion format left dangling an interesting topic suggested by Paul Smith in the rather excellent Distance vs Sprint thread started by Jim Thornton. The topic being that of the mental side of training/competition.

My own selfish interest in this area would be on the mental preparation for 50yds/m competition. Obviously there is not much time to do a great amount of thinking during this event (one of the benefits of 50's) but you need to go into the race with some limited number of important thoughts to concentrate on while swimming. Kind of like 'swing thoughts' in golf (my cross over training sport). As in golf, muscle memory will play a large part in not having to think about everything involved.

I wonder if Paul or any others would care to share what those few key race thoughts might be, from the start, swim and turn through to the finish? And would there be any mental aspects to training for a 50 that might be different from distance training?

Bert Petersen
February 2nd, 2002, 02:17 AM
Ian; I'd like to take a whack at it, since I am definitely a sprinter. My Butterfly licence expires at 109.63 yards........ Assuming you haven't been out of the water for years, a short race is almost entirely mentally driven. Psyching yourself up is part of it. Read the heat sheet-see who the competition is-think about winning and/or having a best time. A good long warm-up, 700 yds. minimum and some sprints to fire up the fast twitch muscles. Oh, I forgot, stretch every muscle you can find on your body before the warmup. If the facility allows, some hard kicking and stroking close to the event fills up those muscles with blood and, hence, energy. To do well, ya gotta believe you CAN do well. Take this to the bank: If you think you can, you might. If you don't think you can, for sure you WON'T. Visualize ! Imagine the race- how many kicks before surfacing, exactly when are you going to breathe, see yourself touching the pad and looking up at a best time. Try to keep Adrenalin under control until about one heat before yours. Then get as scared as you please. Now, if you kick my hindey next time we compete, I want some credit !!!

SomeChick
February 3rd, 2002, 09:59 AM
Greetings!

I'm a Masters swimmer up in Canada, and am approaching my 1yr mark of swimming with the Masters. I used to swim competitively as a youth, but quit when I was 13 (after 7 years), so when I actually look back, I don't really remember a heck of a lot that'll help me these days.

Although my "competitive" focus is to fill my event card with times, and then improve upon them, I'm still interested in doing the best I can, and knowing how to think and what to think about, while I'm racing. I've gone into two small meets and filled 7 "event holes" so far (out of 18).

I appreciated the stretching info posted here - and chatter about what kinds of warmups (how long, as well as content) to do is good, as well.

I'd love it if someone would chat a bit about how to effectively swim a 200 or a 400 - something that isn't completely an endurance race, but is longer than something sprintable, too.

My next meet (provincials? not sure) will have me going into a few 200's (back and/or I.M.), with the slight possibility of me hitting the 400M free. Any thoughts on strategy would be appreciated.

I've competed before, so I'm familiar, if not comfortable, with the process. However, I would love to find out some "tests" to do during a mid-length race to determine if I'm overdoing it too early on, and would love some advice on when to "kick it" at the end.

Thanks all - I think the new board looks great!

Jill
Some Chick's Life (http://www.somechickslife.com)

jean sterling
February 3rd, 2002, 01:41 PM
You mentioned the 200 IM, so I will comment on that event. Most important in the 200 IM is to make sure that you swim the fly leg easy (or at least as easy as you can), or you will be all wiped out for the rest of the race.

What you do after the fly leg depends on your strengths and weaknesses. My best strokes are the fly and the breaststroke. Even though butterfly is one of my best strokes, I still try to swim the fly leg easy. Backstroke is my worst stroke, so I use the backstroke leg to kind of recover from the fly and get ready for the breaststroke. I really BLAST the breaststroke - if I don't have a half-way decent lead at the end of the breaststroke, I lose. Then I try to do my best in the freestyle - if possible I try to blast the free at the end.

The IM is an interesting event imho as everybody has different strengths and weaknesses, so the lead can change, sometimes drastically, during a race.

.

Matt S
February 4th, 2002, 01:39 PM
Jill,

You asked about middle-distance freestyle pacing. I have found that can depend on your strengths and weaknesses, (surprisingly enough) rather like the 200 IM.

Let me give you a couple of examples. My friend, Priscilla Kawakami, is a classic distance swimmer. She's been tested at Olympic Training Center; she has all the physiological characteristics. If you look at her splits from say a 1500 free, you will see practically no variation in her 100 splits. Her phrase is "a metronome." (And I hope she doesn't kill me for using her as an example.)

On the other hand, I am more of a mid-distance swimmer. I have burst speed, but not enought to have a serious 50 or 100. So for me the challenge is to manage when to use that. At least in the 200, I have come to accept that my 2nd 100 will be 5-8 seconds slower than the first. In swims where I have set PR's, and felt like I went out the first 100 easy, and came back in the second with a lot of strength, I still had that 5-8 second difference in the splits.

I have aspired to be a distance swimmer, and to have metronome splits like Priscilla. But, the fact is that is not the way I am built. How does that apply to you? You will have to experiment a bit, and determine what kind of swimmer you are. By all means, ask people how they swim their races. Try out their pacing strategies. While you are doing that, however, be aware that some strategies may not work as well for you.

One skill I have found that benefits me is to be able to feel the difference between a 100 or a 200 or a 400, etc. pace. Some obvious differences can be things like a 6-beat vs. a 2-beat kick (or breathing pattern if you vary that by distance). It can also involve subtler senses, like how long I "strech" my leading arm forward before initiating the pull, or how vigorously I "snap" my hip roll. Particularly during a pre-meet warm-up, I like to do what I call a "pace" 100. That is I swim the first 25 at what feels like an easy or 1500 pace, the second at what feels like an 800, the third at a 400 pace, and the last at a 200. There are two benefits to this. The first is to set in my mind what pace I want to use for the race I am swimming, which helps prevent errors in the first part of the race. The second is to have the ability to swim at different speeds, and be aware of them. This is a good tool to have if you are in a close race of 200-1500 meters.

Matt

Ian Smith
February 6th, 2002, 11:46 AM
As usual, thx Bert for some useful good crisp racing advice. (Bert, if I ever kick your hindey in fly, the credit will be all yours - your hindey is pretty safe, however, never having swum this stroke in my youth, fly remains somewhat of a mystery to me)

Definitely not wanting to divert from the interesting topic of tactics (for all events longer than 42 seconds, I have learnt) but given the lack of forthcoming mental training advice, I thought I would describe what we are currently receiving in the mental training department and invite comments.

I have to say the concept of mental training was new and intriguing to me but then training certainly has changed since I swam 40 odd years ago. We never had any 'mental training' (nor did we have drills, intervals or much else either); we just had another beer for our mental health and fortitude or went surfing (or both).

As far as I can establish, the only mental training I currently get on my team is trying to "get" the sets announced by the coach at our two morning sessions. This can be tough at 7am before having had a coffee. Up until arriving at the pool, as little as possible mental activity takes place; any thinking at all would send any reasonable person back to bed.

Allow me to illustrate a typical team mental training set:
"The main set this morning will be 6 x 250….
1) 4 x 25 fly / 50 fly / 100free
2) 3 x 25 back / 50 back / 50 breast / 125 free
3) and so on…"(maybe at this point our Mensa members have spotted the pattern)

"The 25's will be 'build' on 30, work the middle sets on 60 and the free is at 1500 race pace" (as if I would know what that was - I suppose this has to be somehow calculated in your head).
"The 250's are on 3:55" (to make it 4minutes would severely diminish the mental training benefits, I imagine)
"We leave on the green top in 5 seconds….go!" (this is a ploy by the coach to prevent negotiation for more rest time between 250's - needed only to determine the composition of the next 250 of course)

Other mental training involves having to build the 'odds' while descending the 'evens' but, at the same time, decreasing or increasing intervals by 5 seconds each repeat. Not forgetting, of course, that certain components of the set have to be in reverse IM order.

The best way to avoid mental overtraining is to have a genius ahead of you in your lane and hope that you make the interval with enough time to ask what's next. (I have found that 35 year olds and younger are quite good at serving this purpose; you just have to find one slow enough to be in your lane) This is especially important if you do not have prescription goggles and the coach writes the set on the white board with a fading yellow marker.

If we had better mental training, would it be possible to get these sets first time?

Paul Smith
February 7th, 2002, 05:44 PM
Ian,
Having been on the road for some time I have'nt had any time to get involved on this topic (which I touched on in the previous forum). The reason that I brought it up was that I hear quite a few people talk about their workouts, but when we start going to meets all to often all the great training gets "lost" and people "choke".

I look at mental training in two ways:

1) Day in day out "motivation". What is it that keeps people getting up and hitting the pool at all hours in all conditions abusing themselves?! For me I have three things that keep me focused: Health/fitness, friendships & meets.

2) Race Prep: I think this is the area that stumps a lot of people, the truth is that winning races is usually not decided by who is in the best shape, but rather who is the better prepared mentally.

The sad part is that there is no tried & true formula! What works for one person may be terrible for the next (I need to relax, visualize and get myself quietly worked up, my wife is bouncing off the walls and usually driving me crazy!). I thought Bert actually summed it up very well.

Bottom line if you want to be good at racing is to get out and swim as many meets as you can, experiment and find what works for you!

Ion Beza
February 11th, 2002, 03:42 PM
I am commenting this general post with my personal insight.

Originally posted by Paul Smith
...
Race Prep: I think this is the area that stumps a lot of people, the truth is that winning races is usually not decided by who is in the best shape, but rather who is the better prepared mentally.
...
My impression is that the most power one can summon in competition with good taper and visualization is the maximum physical conditioning one has built in training because there is not much surpassing available.
(The same comment is made by P.H. Mullen in the book "Gold in the Water" about the 2000 Olympics).


Originally posted by Paul Smith
...
The reason that I brought it up was that I hear quite a few people talk about their workouts, but when we start going to meets all to often all the great training gets "lost" and people "choke".
...
In my experience I see faster racers than me who train on the same intervals as I do, 1:15 pace per 100 yards; I think they are underachieving now in workouts in comparison with what peak swimming aerobic they have developed as teenagers; I as a post-teenager starter I overachieve in workouts to force an already formed body to perform at the same level: it's like in cars asking an already built Chevrolet to perform with a Ferrari, by small improvements in tedious tune-up.


Originally posted by Paul Smith
...Day in day out "motivation". What is it that keeps people getting up and hitting the pool at all hours in all conditions abusing themselves?! For me I have three things that keep me focused: Health/fitness, friendships & meets.

For me is the inner power that cultivates a sense of conqueror's adventure.

Mr. Furious
February 10th, 2008, 10:37 PM
Hey, This guy is really, um, I don't know.

That Guy
February 11th, 2008, 12:59 AM
Hey, This guy is really, um, I don't know.

Wait, what?

geochuck
February 11th, 2008, 04:24 AM
Odds to the Past.
Think too much mentally, prepare mentally, hate the other swimmers, stretch too much, lose the race.

Chris Stevenson
February 11th, 2008, 05:18 AM
Odds to the Past.
Think too much mentally, prepare mentally, hate the other swimmers, stretch too much, lose the race.

George, I've squinted and looked at this sideways and I still don't get it...can you explain? (Or is it a Yoda thing?)

geochuck
February 11th, 2008, 10:14 AM
The past it is 6 years to the day that this thread was brought up.


I used to go to a swim meet. There I would be greeted by all kinds of swimmers. Looking in mirrors hypnotizing themselves, others no eye contact they were told by their coaches to think you hate your competition. Some strange goings on.

Whenever I saw this I would try to distract them from whatever they were doing.

Rejean Lacoursiere used to hypnotize him self before he raced. One time he was at the side of Lake Ontario in a hypnotic trace saying to him self - The Water Is 70 degrees over and over again. I walked up to him took the temperature of the lake it was 52 degrees. I showed him the themometer and said no its 52 degrees. He swam 5 miles of the fifteen mile race and got out.

SwimStud
February 11th, 2008, 10:40 AM
Hey, This guy is really, um, I don't know.

BLATANT NECRO...oops I used the N word!

You're not related to Swim Spud, or Fontress by any chance are you?
Sometimes I wonder if all this (odd/comedic usernames) is not just one person creating mulitple toons just to entertain themself!

George...so you thinkshowing the temperature to be 52 degrees was what caused himto drop out.. or just that the water was 52 degrees and too cold for him. We all have limitations.

Someone please interrupt my "mantra and mirror staring" session at zones and tell me I am the greatest swimmer ever to not compete as a kid...I might break the minute on 100 FR!

geochuck
February 11th, 2008, 10:50 AM
BLATANT NECRO...oops I used the N word!

George...so you thinkshowing the temperature to be 52 degrees was what caused himto drop out.. or just that the water was 52 degrees and too cold for him. We all have limitations.

Someone please interrupt my "mantra and mirror staring" session at zones and tell me I am the greatest swimmer ever to not compete as a kid...I might break the minute on 100 FR!

Well if you think it is warm it must be warm.

I know you are the expert mirror watcher. Once you believe you are the greatest swimmer in the world it has to be true. Or would that be true lies???

pwolf66
February 11th, 2008, 11:29 AM
Someone please interrupt my "mantra and mirror staring" session at zones and tell me I am the greatest swimmer ever to not compete as a kid...I might break the minute on 100 FR!

I dunno, Iwannafly could take that honor away from you if you're not careful.

Paul

SwimStud
February 11th, 2008, 11:39 AM
I dunno, Iwannafly could take that honor away from you if you're not careful.

Paul

Yo, Bavaro, when you getting 89 stenciled on your speedos?

If TJ is man enough, he's man enough...
:weightlifter:

Iwannafly
February 11th, 2008, 04:03 PM
Yo, Bavaro, when you getting 89 stenciled on your speedos?

If TJ is man enough, he's man enough...
:weightlifter:
Just because my wife questions my manliness doesn't mean you can question it:doh:!?!?!?
And I have a question. If I'm kind of limited on the mental capacity anyway (read, I'm sharp like a bowling ball), does it really matter how I prepare mentally for a race? I may not be the best swimmer with no childhood swimming experience, but I'm damn funny! Can I say that?

geochuck
March 14th, 2011, 12:43 PM
An update on Lacoursiere a very good Marathon swimmer. He is now 76 and has had a heart bypass. By all reports he is feeling good.

The past it is 6 years to the day that this thread was brought up.


I used to go to a swim meet. There I would be greeted by all kinds of swimmers. Looking in mirrors hypnotizing themselves, others no eye contact they were told by their coaches to think you hate your competition. Some strange goings on.

Whenever I saw this I would try to distract them from whatever they were doing.

Rejean Lacoursiere used to hypnotize him self before he raced. One time he was at the side of Lake Ontario in a hypnotic trace saying to him self - The Water Is 70 degrees over and over again. I walked up to him took the temperature of the lake it was 52 degrees. I showed him the themometer and said no its 52 degrees. He swam 5 miles of the fifteen mile race and got out.

geochuck
March 14th, 2011, 05:21 PM
I had a spirite that is all I can say. This is how I felt, I was just a happy guy. Here I am in 1966 I used my Mental aspects of training/competition. Sorry the paper is all in French.

bamueller
March 14th, 2011, 11:51 PM
I would like to add the importance of practicing your races. I am sprinter. I like the metronome example and I wish I could swim an hour long postal and keep the same pace over and over for each hundred, but I am not built that way. I train with people who are, and to me it is crazy. When we sprint in practice, it is a different story. It is as though they have no acceleration, or cannot swim faster than the metronome pace.

To me, the importance of practing your races is so you develop the muscle memory and you learn to swim your races. In a sprint, I cannot remember what I think about. In practice, I try to think about that, to work on things I normally wouldn't in a race when on auto pilot, like SDK, breathing, kicking, ect. I suggest sprinting from the blocks too, wearing a swim cap if you do in races, like a true dress rehearsal.

Before the race, get your warmups in, get ready, however you do it. Stay warm, stay hydrated and fueled. Swimming is a mental game for sure, but really all sports are. Whether you are in a three-point stance ready to fire off the line to block an inside linebacker, or standing behind the blocks staring down the pool for a 50m free, you need to be mentally prepared to execute the actions and fundamentals you have been committing to memory for some time. Think about your starts, your turns, you competition, and moving those arms. Once you hit the water, I can't recall anything I think about at that time. It's instinct. One can only hope they have prepared the right things.

Hope that helps.

Celestial
March 29th, 2011, 09:23 PM
Need to revive this thread for one night, ok? Regarding the mental aspects of training - do you all feel that your training is maximized when you train alone, or with others? And if "others" is the answer, is it better to train with agemates - or will any age do? (including 12-13 yr olds). Seriously tempted to join USA Swimming to get a little more challenge than I'm able to give myself alone at 5:30am. Quick Quick - I might join the babies in the morning!

gdanner
March 29th, 2011, 09:42 PM
Need to revive this thread for one night, ok? Regarding the mental aspects of training - do you all feel that your training is maximized when you train alone, or with others? And if "others" is the answer, is it better to train with agemates - or will any age do? (including 12-13 yr olds). Seriously tempted to join USA Swimming to get a little more challenge than I'm able to give myself alone at 5:30am. Quick Quick - I might join the babies in the morning!

I have spent time training alone before and I currently train with 15-18 year-olds. I think any age will do, because I am typically more motivated by the competition of having others around. Regardless of my teammates ages, I always want to beat them. One of the few aspects that I enjoy about training solo is the ability to do whatever sets I want and change things around mid-practice. When with a team, I try to stick with what the coaches write, so as to not set a bad example for the kids. I've never been a big talker in the middle of practice, but it's nice to have people to say a word or two to from time to time.

ElaineK
March 29th, 2011, 09:43 PM
Need to revive this thread for one night, ok? Regarding the mental aspects of training - do you all feel that your training is maximized when you train alone, or with others? And if "others" is the answer, is it better to train with agemates - or will any age do? (including 12-13 yr olds). Seriously tempted to join USA Swimming to get a little more challenge than I'm able to give myself alone at 5:30am. Quick Quick - I might join the babies in the morning!

Hey Celeste, it was great meeting you this past weekend! I'll look forward to seeing you at Auburn. :banana:

From my perspective, I feel I would be getting more out of my training, if I trained with others. The closest team is a 50 minute drive each way at night, so it's much more convenient for me to swim right here at our community pool. And, I prefer training in the mornings for several reasons. But, on the downside, I miss out on all the benefits of training with others. I have trained with my part-time private coach a couple of times over at his pool (SwimFest location) after our coaching session and I can tell you those were the best workouts I have had. Having someone in the next lane pushing me and keeping me accountable is a great motivator! The social aspects of training with others makes it more enjoyable, as well; at least for me.

As for age, I wouldn't think it would matter as much ability/speed; being matched up with others of your level, in the same lane. But, having said that, I must say, I really enjoy meeting other gals and guys my age at the swim meets and having more in common with them than, say, a 12 year old!

Check in with Swimshark (Alison). She trains with teens and can give you her perspective on it.

Have fun!
:cheerleader:

orca1946
March 30th, 2011, 12:47 AM
If it were not for the team & coach I swim with now, I would be much slower ! They push me farther than I would ever go !!:applaud::applaud:

Celestial
March 30th, 2011, 01:38 PM
Well, I did go ahead and join them. If I had known that they go 10 sec behind (no draft!!) maybe I would have rethought though. . . arms are killing me, but it's the best 4000 I've done in weeks, I think. I hope you all are right, because I had such a humbling meet this past weekend, and I don't want a repeat of it!!

Celestial
March 30th, 2011, 01:41 PM
Hey Elaine! Had fun meeting you too this weekend!! I am in serious need of SPEED! I think I forgot how to race! But, these kids will definitely keep me "accountable" as you say. They were very sweet nice girls and didn't even say anything rude like, "what's an old lady like you doing in my lane?"

androvski
March 30th, 2011, 01:49 PM
I'd just like to note that contrary to popular belief and the earlier posts in this thread, Salo and Riewald (and several other authors) advise against static stretching before a race. Instead, you should perform dynamic stretching (arm rotations, jumping jacks, etc).

swoomer
March 30th, 2011, 08:27 PM
Here's another approach to training for competition. I try to swim as many meets as I can within a season with a taper meet as the goal for the end of the season. In most cases, my times improve with each meet. I don't go into each meet expecting a best time, but rather consider it a form of speed training. By doing this, I can try different pacing strategies, work on starts and turns, gain focus, and practice my events.

Lump
March 30th, 2011, 09:27 PM
I think visualization still is advantageous. To mentally go through the race, the start, how you feel, hitting the turns each time, the last 25, the pain..... certainly helps as if you were almost swimming it. I certainly don't want to be climbing on the blocks and then "oh sh!t", and start thinking about it.

Rykno
March 31st, 2011, 08:40 AM
do you all feel that your training is maximized when you train alone, or with others? And if "others" is the answer, is it better to train with agemates - or will any age do? (including 12-13 yr olds).

I prefer to swim with speed appropriate. age doesn't matter. I'm 36 but the guys that push me most at practice are 24 and 45.

if I get permission from my boss to swim saturday mornings I love swimming with the 15-19yrs olds.

Not being the fastest in the pool has its advantages. you don't have to lead your lane, and if you do, usually the person in the lane next to you is faster.

if I had to practice alone i would most likely only swim half the distance and less often.