Guest contributor Josh Davis is a 5-time Olympic medalist, former captain of the USA National Team and a television sports commentator for Fox Sports.
There is a saying in life that the rich get richer, and it could be said in swimming the fast get faster. What I’m talking about is how the National Team most every August gets a little further ahead while everyone else takes a vacation. Now granted a vacation maybe just the thing to hit the next season mentally strong, but let me explain and tell me what you think.
The USA Pan Pac team has been in Australia for about a week and are getting ready to face off against the countries that border the Pacific Ocean plus a few others like Brazil. USA’s best swimmers have enjoyed 8 days of training camp that is full of swimming together, encouraging each other, helping each other with strokes, working on starts, turns and relay take offs, all the while being watched and encouraged by the greatest swim coaches on the planet.
Then on top of that they will take advantage of the perfect meals and snacks, professional sports massage, and of course plenty of naps. Then, today when the Pan Pacs start they will have 5 days to practice cheers, more team bonding and becoming even more accomplished at race strategy, race pace and competing at an elite level.
So while the rest of the swim community is enjoying 2 to 3 weeks off, USA Team is getting better. In essence, year after year, every August the fastest swimmers have 2, 3, sometimes 4 more weeks of skill, fitness and confidence building while we sit at home.
If your goal is to one day catch up to the USA Team or to be on the USA Team, how do you make the offseason more productive and get ready for a great season and move forward rather than backward?
Although not the same as being on a USA Team Trip these few tips could go a long way helping start the season right and take steps to improving.
1. Start Studying Technique
When you do finally start swimming again, make a commitment to make every stroke perfect. And the perfect time to make strokes perfect is warm up. Technique is paramount to moving you forward in your career. In fact it is the foundation of your swimming success. The greater your foundation of perfect technique the higher your pyramid of swimming excellence can go. Use August and September to make your strokes prettier, smoother, longer, quieter and faster than ever! Watch the Pan Pacs and pay special attention to technique. Swim Free like Ledecky, IM like Lochte, Fly like Phelps, Backstroke like Missy and Matt, Sprint like Anthony and Adrian, Breastroke like Kevin, Dolphin kick like Tom, etc… Swim like them and you will go faster like them!
2. Start Setting Your Goals
This is a great time set your schedule and plan the season. Do what every Olympian has ever done: Write down your goals and put them up where you can see them every day. You’re going to need to remember your goals and why you are so excited about this season when the painful sets start soon. The human mind and body function infinitely better and move forward faster when there is a plan and destination in front of it.
3. Start getting Back In The Water For at Least 30 Minutes to an Hour
Just getting wet 3 to 4 times a week can make a huge difference and help avoid the uncomfortable and frustrating process of getting back in shape after a month or 2 off. It’s a great time to experiment with race pace training because thats basically what USA team is doing now. Personally, my workouts are about 30 – 45 minutes each day all year long. Or if you’re little older you could go to your local Master’s practice. Nothing helps you fall in love with swimming like Masters, because you can get in when you want, leave when you want, and everybody is always glad you came. You don’t have to wait for the season to start to enjoy swimming laps again.
4. Start Doing Dryland, Anything Dryland
Stretching, jumping, lifting, or just about any exercise can move you forward. If you start with 20 push ups today try 25 tomorrow. Start somewhere no matter how small and work forward from there. Remember extreme soreness from dryland can inhibit stroke technique so be careful.
I started swimming, sleeping, eating, thinking, acting like I was a USA Team member way before I ever made it to one. Your future starts now, your destiny begins today! Go USA Pan Pac Team and, as they say in Australia, “Good On Ya” to all you USA Team Members of the Future! Have a great season everyone.
Josh Davis was the only male from any country to win three Gold Medals at the Atlanta Olympic Games. He went on to be captain of the 2000 Sydney USA Team where he broke the American Record in the 200m Free three times. Davis has been teaching and promoting swimming ever since. For 14 years Davis has been a swimming commentator for Fox Sports.