6 Things to Do Before Swimming Your First College Championship Mile

Courtesy of Franco Pacheco, SwimSwam intern. Follow: @fdpache

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!

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6 years ago

4/5 years I swam the 1500 at CIAUs (now CIS champs). The 400 would have made a triple with 200 Fly and 50 Fly… and 4×200 afterwards. The 1500 hurts but that combo would have been harder and would have gotten same or fewer points.

50+100+200 Fly + 1500 Free = fun

Bill Henderson
6 years ago

Here’s a little gem I give my mile swimmers. Snap your fingers twice as fast as you can. The time from the first snap to the end of the second is about 3 tenths of a second. Not much is it? Now, think in terms of hitting your turns well enough to take that much time off of each turn. 65 turns time 3 tenths of a second is 19.5 seconds off your time just by going after those turns a little faster. Almost 20 seconds plus the taper factor……WOW! Big improvement!

About Franco Pacheco

Franco Pacheco

Franco Pacheco Franco is entering his first season as the new Head Coach at Saint Norbert College in De Pere, WI. The Green Knights recently resurrected the women's program and are creating a new men's program. Both teams will first compete in the 2018-2019 season. He swam at the College of Saint …

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