Thursday, September 3, 2009

Before the swim race

I recalled my first swimming competition and it was a disaster , I was only 10 years old back then and was very tiny :) I was so nervous that I didnt know what was happening around me . Got to the blocks akwardly , and dived in like a prawn and swam as fast as I could ( barely moving though), first thing that happened, goggle came off ! , So I looked like an idiot with half filled water goggles overflipped over my cheeks.

So ,my instinct was to adjust the goggles but i remembered my coach tell me not to adjust anything and kept on swimming , and I kept on swimming for the whole 50m breaststroke. I think it took me around 50 seconds and it felt forever , I must have pulled like 50 strokes and I was ranked like 45 out of 48 participants at my age group level . Not bad ! I came out 3rd , from the bottom of the list :)

Well , after that , throughout my 7 years of competitive racing , I have gathered much experience and I managed to do a best of 32.xx seconds for 50m breasstroke and I learned a lot . I hope to share it with you all so you all dont dive like a prawn and swim like an idiot.

Before the Race ,

The warm up : Do some drills that you normally do , aim is just to warm yourself up . Do some short sprints , like 25m . Do plunging , turnings and finishing . If possible , time it such that your warm up finishes 30 mins before your event.

The starter : Notice who is the starter, analyse his/her pause between swimmers on the blocks and the start. Say , between 'take your mark' and 'go' , person A takes 1.5 seconds for the previous events and you may get the same starter. So you should anticipate your dive in around that time frame.

The visualisation : Try to visualise the whole race from the start to the finish . Try to feel every moment that you will go through, think through how you will start, swim ,breath, turn and finish. What is your intended stroke rate and how you will glide through the water. Plan your race , if it is a 200m race , maybe do a 80% the first 50m , then 90% 2nd 50m , 3rd 50m 85% and last 50m 100%

The comparison : When I was young , I used to be very much intimidated by bigger more muscular swimmers . These swimmers look so fit and huge but alas , I realised most of them were slower than me because they dont have water feel and their weight causes resistance and inflexibility. So, be positive , try your best and dont let other swimmers intimidate you. Chances are you are better than them ! On the other hand , also dont judge that the fatso beside you will be slower than you because in some race, that proves me wrong.. so wrong..

During the race :

Before the blocks : Do some warming up , swing your arms , jump a few times to get your body warm up to the race. Focus on the race and the pool in front of you , do not be distracted by other things

On the Blocks : To cut down on reaction time , I always anticipate the 'start' horn , I would imagine the horn sound is almost coming and when I actually hear the horn sound , I will dive in right away. Do not dive in or move before the horn , many first timers will do that cause they are too nervous , you will end up being disqualified ( DQ ), if there happen to be someone who dives in in your race , do not follow , you might be DQ as well.

The Race : Unless it is a 50m race or unless you are Alain Bernard and those guys, do not go 100% the first 50m , I have seen many beginners do that and end up drained at the end. Instead, do a control first 50m , this is because the adrenalin that you built up before the race will be sufficient to drive you a fast first 50m . You will also be able to save energy for the rest of the race.

The Finishing : The last 15 m is all mental , mind over matter . Pull as hard as you can , kick as hard as you can , drive yourself to the wall at maximum speed . If you are doing a butterfly or a breaststroke , try to time your last stroke to be a complete stroke ( comes with experience ) and keep your head down when you touch the wall . Famous example is Cavic who lost the race 0.01 seconds to Phelps in the Beijing Olympics because he lifted his head up as he touched the wall . Because of this , he will always be remembered as "the guy who lost to Phelps" , instead of Milorad Cavic :)

The video at 36 secs ( Phelps head down, Cavic head up )

Funny stuff about Phelps and Cavic

Enjoy your race !

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