When you’re preparing for a swim race, whether it is in open water or a pool race, practice is obviously the top piece of advice. Training for a competitive race is essential.
However, there are many other things you need to do to prepare yourself, both physically and mentally, to perform to the best of your ability.
Indoor Swim Race
Keep the Stress Managed
Remember your love of swimming and do not let the pressure of winning get in your head. You will already have a fair amount of adrenaline ahead of the race, adding anxiety to it will not help your performance! Talk to your coaches and teammates to keep things light on the day of your meet.
Make sure the night before the meet you get a good night’s sleep. This goes with stress management. If you allow yourself to get so stressed that you can’t sleep your body will be sluggish on the day of the meet. If you have a morning race make sure to eat dinner a few hours before you go to bed. Plan to relax by listening to soothing music, taking a shower, or reading a book before you go to bed.
Of course, you should always eat well, but the timing of when you eat prior to a race is important. If you have a morning race, plan to eat a light breakfast of complex carbs one to two hours before the start of the meet. Don’t forget you’ll need to eat after your race, or in between them to keep your energy up. Pack healthy snacks to bring with you to the meet.
Open Water Race
You cannot solely train in a pool if you are competing in an open water race. Doing laps in a pool is good for building endurance, but in order to be comfortable swimming in open water, one must swim in open water.
During the race, swimming with so many other people, you might experience anxiety. Having a plan for feeling of panic when swimming in open water is advisable, even if you think there is no way you’ll get nervous. Practice pausing and floating while taking deep breaths. Once you feel more relaxed, start swimming by using the breast stroke and then resume your normal swimming form.
Swimming in open water is not the same as swimming in the pool with regard to the gear you’ll need. There are special wetsuits, goggles, and caps for open water swimming. Make sure you understand the conditions you will be swimming in so you know what kind of gear you should buy.
Warm Up and Start Slow
While you should warm up before any athletic event, during an open water race this also gives you a chance to get comfortable in the water environment and acclimate to the temperature. Swimming a half a mile or more in an open water setting is a lot different than doing it in a pool.
You’ll have a lot of adrenaline built up and likely feel like you have the ability to swim faster than you’ve ever done in your life, however you will tire out quickly. Fight the adrenaline and start steady and build up your pace as you go.
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