8 Strategies For Game Day Swim Coaching Greatness

Pam Swander is the North Region Manager, Senior Division Lead and Senior 1 Lead Coach for SwimMAC Carolina.  Her resume spans 30+ years and includes coaching at the high school, age group, senior and collegiate levels.  Pam served as the Director of USA Swimming’s Select Camp, Vice Chair of Hospitality on the U.S. Olympic Trials Committee, and the Indiana Swimming Delegate at the USA Swimming National Convention. She’s been inducted into the Delaware County Athletic Hall of Fame, and she was the keynote speaker at the Women in Coaching Clinic in Stanford, California. In other words, Pam knows swimming. She’s what I call swim-wise. Thankfully she’s nice enough to share some insight into her leadership methods. If you manage coaches, you might appreciate reading her message to SwimMAC staff before a big, year-end swim meet.

Courtesy of Pam Swander:

Good morning coaches,

I wanted to say good luck to each of you coaching this weekend and next. We focus so much on preparing others for competition that at times we forget coaches need preparation also.

For most of us championship meets are the moment of truth – Will our coaching plan set our swimmers up for success this weekend? Maybe you are like me and find yourself consumed with thinking about the upcoming meets and what you might expect to see. I experience a wide range of emotions from confidence to OMG I didn’t do enough to help swimmers prepare. You would think that after 40 years of championship seasons I would have mastered pre meet jitters.

I begin by thinking about each swimmer individually and what can be expected from their performances. It occupies my thoughts and makes it hard for me to stay engaged in the moment. Maybe you can relate?

So I don’t drive my family crazy, I have developed some strategies for game day coaching greatness.


Focus on strengths and practice positive self-talk. Remind yourself of the best moments of practices, the successful sets, the numerous opportunities provided for the athletes to dress rehearse and prepare.


Plan your week — so as much as possible — you avoid stressful situations or conflicts that drain energy and focus. Avoid activities that may result in your being tired, depressed or negative.


Continue your best schedule of rest, eating, relaxing and exercising. This will help maintain a feeling of normality, ground you and keeps you in a confident state.


Have a game plan. Know what you hope to do, say and behave. Don’t leave your strategic plan to chance. Cover all your bases.


Be prepare for obstacles! You will need to lead and guide your athletes through the distraction and be prepared to refocus them. There will be game time decisions that are totally unexpected. It is normal.


Primarily visualize positive outcomes. Leave analyzing what didn’t work to post meet review.


Spend time around people who will support your efforts and who validate you. You want to be with people who champion your abilities, encourage you and believe in you. This directly impacts your belief in your own abilities.


Step up appreciation and gratitude for those in your life and the opportunity to serve swimmers and families!

Everyone has a story about great preparations leading to great performances. The key is realizing you have the control over how you prepare. Give yourself the gift of psyching up and watching your swimmers soar. Best of luck this weekend and next! GO MAC!

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About Gold Medal Mel Stewart

Gold Medal Mel Stewart

MEL STEWART Jr., aka Gold Medal Mel, won three Olympic medals at the 1992 Olympic Games. Mel's best event was the 200 butterfly. He is a former World, American, and NCAA Record holder in the 200 butterfly. As a writer/producer and sports columnist, Mel has contributed to Yahoo Sports, Universal Sports, …

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