So you are swimming your first mile in college! For some of you it could be your first mile ever and for others, it may be more of the same. Either way, the mile is one of those special races that can be both exciting and daunting. As it isn’t a part of the regular meet schedule but happens to be swum at most championships meets, the coming of the mile is something of an event. I would liken it best to the onslaught of pumpkin products in the fall. It is special and you wait all year just for the season. Without further ado, here are six specific things to help you swim your first collegiate mile.
ONE – Relax
More than anything, the mile is just another swim. While there is a mystique around the event, trust your training and your abilities. I promise, you will survive the mile and the mere 1650 yards it contains.
TWO – Find a song
The mile is a long race (in racing standards, in real life its less than a television episode) so it is helpful to fill your mind with something other than the pure x’s and o’s of the event. Finding a song that is melodic and motivating gives you something to help visualizing the race and can carry you through. My personal favorite was “Bittersweet Symphony” by the Verve.
THREE – Know your counter
Make sure you have a counter lined up either a couple days ahead or prior to meet start. It will remove one obstacle from your success early and allow some prep. Let your counter know what signals you use and what they mean and make sure they know your strategy. If that means being sure to look at your coach for signs or knowing that you want to hold a specific pace on your hundreds; they can’t help you unless they know.
FOUR – Warm-up Smart
This one sounds like a no-brainer but making sure that you warm up the right way is something that many swimmers take for granted in the shorter events. Your coach will have the right advice for you, but make sure you follow it! Getting a complete warm up is key.
FIVE – Step on the blocks like you own the pool
Even if it’s your first time, be confident. Even if you are faking it; going through the motions is better than being timid as your approach. It’s okay to be nervous, but again, trust your ability and your training. You’ve got this!
SIX – Have fun!
Race, find your pace, finish with passion but more than anything have fun. Swimming in practice, especially distance training, can be a grind. Love the grind, of course, but all of that grind got you to this moment: The Payoff. Enjoy the fruits of your work and own your first collegiate mile!