by Olivier Poirier-Leroy. Join his weekly motivational newsletter for swimmers by clicking here.
Swim meets are a little unforgiving when viewed in a certain manner. You spend months training a countless number of hours, only to have your performance completed in a manner of minutes, with no recourse if you disagree with the numbers on the scoreboard.
But on the other hand, they are also places where swimmers learn the value of hard work, of setting and chasing goals, and other life skills including dealing with setbacks, developing sportsmanship, to even just broing down with your fellow swimmers.
Here are 7 reasons every swimmer should go to swim meets:
1. Sportsmanship. In competition we learn the value of sportsmanship. There is value in waiting for other swimmers to finish before hopping out of the pool after a race, of waiting and cheering on the competition struggling to complete their own race. Watching young swimmers behave in this way is not only educational for other swimmers, but heartening and inspirational for the rest of us.
2. Teaches swimmers to set goals, and make a plan to crush ‘em. Swim meets provide the opportunity for swimmers to work towards a specific goal. Which requires them to make a plan to achieve it, something that will translate well to whatever they choose to do outside of the pool.
3. Learning to cope with disappointments. They swam their little heart out, crashed into the wall in a flurry of arms and splash, spun around to see their time—and their face instantly fell. Either they lost the race they wanted to win, came short of breaking their personal best, or their goggles filled up with water right off the dive. Swimming is a microcosm of life; sometimes things simply don’t fall into place the way we want or expect. Realizing that things won’t always go our way, and understanding that the path forward is one we must pave, is a lesson that will come in handy during all stages of life.
4. It is the ultimate feedback for how you train. Piling up the miles and going in-practice bests are awesome, and can help keep you motivated and excited about training. However, to get a full idea of where your skills and abilities rack up, you gotta get up on the blocks. It’s difficult to fake the nerves and adrenaline you get in the moments before your race, and more importantly, once your race is over you not only get a clear idea of just how fast you are capable of going, but you can figure out where you can improve most moving forward.
5. Teaches the value of hard work. The most dangerous swimmer in the pool can often be found with the silver medal around his or her neck. Coming that close to winning, close enough that they can taste it, often acts as the jet fuel to higher performance. Having come so close, our runner-up will double down on their effort and commitment in the pool so that they never have to suffer the indignity of losing again.
6. Gives you the opportunity to redefine your limits. There is nothing quite like swimming faster than you ever have. That feeling of looking up at the scoreboard and seeing a number faster than you thought was possible of yourself. When you shave a heap of time off of your best time your per-conceived limits are forever altered. You now expect more and better from yourself.
7. Camaraderie. Although swimming is a hybrid individual/team sport, the swim meet is a decidedly team atmosphere. Whether it is taking a coach bus together, painting the sides of the vans with inspirational sayings, or even flying cross country together, swim meets bring athletes together. Teammates cheer for one another, screaming themselves hoarse even though they have a final of their own to swim shortly after, to swimmers from different teams cheering on an athlete who is having the swim of his or her life. A sense of kinship is inevitable when you go to battle together for a full weekend, each chasing the outer limits of what is possible.
ABOUT OLIVIER POIRIER-LEROY
Olivier Poirier-Leroy is a former national level swimmer. He’s the publisher of YourSwimBook, a ten-month log book for competitive swimmers.
He’s also the author of the recently published mental training workbook for competitive swimmers, Conquer the Pool: The Swimmer’s Ultimate Guide to a High Performance Mindset.
It combines sport psychology research, worksheets, and anecdotes and examples of Olympians past and present to give swimmers everything they need to conquer the mental side of the sport.
Ready to take your mindset to the next level?
Click here to learn more about Conquer the Pool.
COACHES & CLUBS: Yuppers–we do team orders of “Conquer the Pool” which includes a team discount as well as complimentary branding (your club logo on the cover of the book) at no additional charge.
Want more details? Click here for a free estimate on a team order of CTP.
Great points, however, two of your points need more attention, based on the meets I’ve attended recently.
#1 Sportsmanship. beyond the mandatory “wait to get out of the lane” rule, young swimmers are not congratulating or cheering on good swims. Maybe partly because they have been led to believe (by over ambitious parents or ultra competitive coaches) that it’s a zero sum game “you can only have one 1st place” or “only 5 swimmers can make the cut”; this misdirected understanding of swim competition leads to disappointment and envy that’s inappropriately displaced. Being a “good sport” is easy to say, glib even, but very very difficult to truly embrace and apply, without a supportive environment. That environment is more often… Read more »
Also ya get to play cards and eat snacks!
Thank you for “Take your Mark”. When I was younger I would not have really “got” this stuff, but it’s useful now, and interesting.
Great read! And so true!