1. Focus on the little details
Although we all feel as though we have worked our hardest when we are wrenching out our guts or letting our face turn purple, in actual fact this is only a minor detail in order to reach full potential in swimming and sport in general. Ultimately when competing in a race regardless of stroke or distance it is unlikely that we will be as exhausted as we can make ourselves in practice. It is therefore more important to work on the little details; the starts, turns, stroke count which are more pivotal come race day. In addition, it is the little glitches in our swimming which can have the biggest effect. A great example is Alison Schmitt’s change from a two stroke breathing pattern to a four stroke breathing pattern from 2011 to 2012. The ultimate consequence saw her change from a world championship finalist to a Olympic champion in the 200m freestyle.
2. Quality over quantity
Quality over quantity. And no I’m not referring to the USRPT phenomenon. We have a misconception that to become an Olympic champion we must train every day, every week for every year. In reality it is quite the opposite. There is nothing worth gaining from simply turning up to practice without purpose. In fact if one is to turn up to practice completely exhausted without the energy to follow what the coach wishes it would make much better sense to rest and make the next practice more utilised. This is the same for rest days as I am a firm believer that rest is as important as training as it is the rest that will enable us to train as hard as we can come the next practice. A useful example is David Davies in his run up to the 2012 Olympics where increasing his total yardage led to what he admitted what a physical burnout.
3. Practice and monitor stroke count
Stroke count. I firmly believe that stroke count is the key to success. Weal know of Michael Phelps historic story of stoke counting to 200m fly victory in 2008 due to his goggle malfunction but I’d like to reach beyond that. If we are able to truly master our stroke count this will allow stroke count to be an indicator of how fast we are going. This will be most useful for distance swimmers who perhaps may match 30 strokes for 30 seconds. Thus if they are able to maintain 30 strokes per length for the duration of the mile they will be able to go sub 15 minutes. However for breastroke and butterfly stroke count is also pivotal to nailing turns and finishes whilst performing correct timing of the stroke. Monitoring stroke count in practice will allow the swimmer in a race to let that be the only thing they think about in a race on their goal towards victory. Moreover if swimmers are able to keep consistent stroke count in practice throughout the constant tiring screams of the bodies, this will make it much easier come the race day.
As we can see becoming a more thoughtful swimmer takes time and patience. To become better athletes we cannot just focus on putting ourselves through physical torture because ultimately in the race we want to feel as comfortable as possible while going as fast as possible. More thoughtful swimmers are those that focus on the little things which will ultimately cultivate in reaching their full potential.