It’s Definitely Crunch Time!

Posted on January 13, 2011


As the new big meet of Florida age-group swimming quickly approaches, FLAGS as they call it, I am reminded of some of the very basic things to cover in practice.  After all, these are kids still are not at the highest level yet and need to continue to develop their stroke technique and efficiency. We want them to be good as they enter into their high school years and beyond, right? Right!

Being a 12-year-old World Champ  (Haha!)  is not really going to guarantee them a real world record or a trip to the Olympics in the future, but consistent stroke technique and growth as an athlete will certainly give them the best shot at it.  Some of my best swimmers actually started to shine as 13-14 year-olds because of the consistency and willingness to concentrate on the basics as well as build up their pain threshold when it comes to training.

Getting faster is really just getting your body use to faster speeds at a more efficient rate, in my opinion. If you get your body use to doing 59s on many 100 yard or meter repeats, it will get easier to do in a meet.  In my book, massive yards don’t make you fast, swimming fast makes you fast!

Doing Things Right

This is the time to do everything as perfect as possible and certainly be as critical as you can, as a coach or swimmer.  This is a must.  All turns must be fast, clean, streamline, not breathed into or out of, and kicked off properly.  I always tell my kids, “You are going as fast as you are ever going to go when you push off the wall, so try and keep your body at that level as long as you can!”

It is the same with starts; why blow the fastest thing you’ll do in your entire race by doing it wrong by not streamlining and breathing the first stroke?  I have seen many age-group swimmers win their races on starts and even pass other swimmers on turns.  It is pretty cool to pass people without evening taking a stroke!

Lastly in this category, balance your stroke.  Many athletes swim so many yards the wrong way that their stroke becomes, lop-sided and inefficient. OUCH!  Balance you stroke by watching yourself in video, breathing bilaterally, counting your strokes, and doing many stroke lengthening drills, Popov, etc.  Sprint, I mean sprint. Sprint as hard as you can, period.  Especially the last month or so. I don’t need to say anymore about that. Duh!

Dream Big!

If you dream big, the dreams will come.  Eventually.  You will get your day, I can almost promise it.

You will do the best your body can do, but confidence has to be in your mental makeup all the time.  Doubt, negativity and worry is a confidence killer and your competitors know it.  Go into a meet and stand on a block knowing that no one has worked harder than you on your strokes, turns, starts, and training! And NEVER give up, ever! A certain Jason Lezak comes to mind…

So when you are thinking of your crunch time and the last few weeks of training before your big meets as an athlete or coach, concentrate on the basics and do them over and over.  You will see a difference.  Flip turn faster than anybody, start with a purpose, balance your strokes, and sprint like you never have before!

And always remember, don’t let anybody take your dreams away from you-ever!