Timing is everything – a cliche used a lot in our everyday lives. But I’m here to talk about swimming; we can talk life some other time.
Olympic Trials are about seven months away, and just about every month until then our nations best have opportunities to fine-tune their races. For those of you that don’t know, here is what the next few months look like –
Early December – Winter Nationals
Mid December – Duel in the Pool
January – Texas Pro Series
February – Conference Championships for college athletes (SCY)
March – Orlando Pro Series & NCAA (SCY)
April – Mesa Pro Series
May – Charlotte Pro Series
June – Santa Clara and Indianapolis Pro Series
July – Olympic Trials
August – Olympic Games
Being just over six-seven months away, and a solid couple of months of training since the completion of the summer season, this was a good time for most of our top athletes to get a mini rest and shave and put up some times. While seeing where you are time wise is a good gauge, I believe also racing right now, and a chance to every month until Trials just about, gives our athletes a chance to nearly perfect their strategies.
We see swimmers like Missy Franklin, Michael Phelps, Nathan Adrian, Dana Vollmer, Natalie Coughlin, Tom Shields, etc. playing around with parts of their races now in turn to have it all down to a science or second nature come time the bright lights shine in Omaha. And I’ve talked about it all weekend; the athletes are also getting the opportunity to get their minds right behind the block and in the race with these dress rehearsal races.
As a swimmer I loved a mid season rest, it broke up the season mentally for me as an athlete. As a young coach, I really didn’t have an opinion at first; but now a few years in the game of coaching, I think a mid season rest is good for our athletes. It’s good to practice your strategies, see where your strengths are, see what you can keep playing with, but also, see where the holes are in your races. You can bet Missy is going to keep working on starts and front speed, Tom Shield working on mentally coming home strong, Simone Manuel and Lia Neal are finding ways to get out fast like the Aussies, Natalie Coughlin deciding her event line up for this summer, and many other scenarios our Nationals Teamers are faced with.
I think the biggest take away from seeing our top athletes go through these rehearsals now is to realize every time you as an athlete get behind the block, rested or not, is an opportunity. Sure it’s easy when you are tired and broken down to mentally give yourself an off swim, but those are the moments you can chose to throw away or use to grow. While we all wish our tapered swims come with no pain, I can guarantee that may happen for 1% of your races. Practicing great race strategy while your legs feel like the may fall off, or when you have a bad start in the 50 free, or working on coming home like a train when you feel like you have nothing left to give are all moments that will make you better. And even more so, make you mind mentally stronger.
I’ll admit sometimes the timing isn’t always right in swimming [or in life]. But realizing that timing is key, taking every opportunity to get better, will help maximize this next year heading in Rio or any swim meet you may be gearing up for.