Preparation is an important aspect for any big event or occasion and when it comes to a swim meet this is no different. Depending on the meet, your preparation will start many weeks – months in advance.
The day before a swim meet
Pack a bag of everything you will need the day before your meet. This will eliminate the chance of any last minute panic on the morning of your race and help free your mind to focus on your preparation. Ensure you pack your race day essentials, for me these include two towels, two pairs of swimming goggles, two swimming caps and more than enough snacks and drinks to keep me going for the duration of that day’s event.
Prepare a game plan. With your coach ensure you have planned your warm up, what events you are swimming and your warm down between events (find out if there is a warm down pool available or if you need to plan alternative warm downs). Further find out if the meet requires check in and account for this time in your game plan for the day.
Manage extra energy. In the lead up to a swim meet it is normal for your training volume to reduce, as a result you may find your energy levels increase in the days leading up to an event. As an athlete you need to learn way to manage this excess energy and harness it for your swim meet.
Multi-day swim meets. If you are competing in a multi-day swim meet, be sure to warm down after every event. If no warm down pool is available conditioning exercise such as jogging, jumping backs and wall push ups, followed by static or dynamic stretches are a good alternative.
Lastly go to bed as early as possible, beginning a few days before your swim meet, especially if you are an early riser. You need to give your body ample time each day to rest and recover from training prior to a meet, 5 hours of sleep a night will not result in your best performance.
The day of a swim meet
It’s the day of the meet and the best way to start your day (as always) is with breakfast. If you have a morning event a light breakfast such as cereal with a banana is a good option. If your event isn’t until the afternoon it is better for you to enjoy a slightly bigger breakfast followed by a light lunch. The general rule is to eat approximately 2 hours before your event and some of the best foods include: Pasta, cereal, bagels, fruit and vegetables.
Your race day routine is very much a personal ritual so can vary from person to person, but our top tips are:
- Be sure you rest before your race and don’t over extend yourself in the lead up
- Have your swim suit on to get your mentally prepared beginning in the morning.
- Find what works for you, maybe some music to calm nerves (so ensure your iPod is charged).
Right before you swim
It is important to visualise your race, run through it in your head from when you walk to the blocks, get into your start position, hit the water, each turn and then touching the wall at the end and visualising what time you will see on the board.
It is important to stay relaxed, ignore competitors, focus on your process and control your breathing, possibly even think of past great swims.