Between the 5am wake-up calls, ice cold water, skin tight suits and insane practice schedules, it’s no wonder people consider swimming one of the most challenging sports in the world. In addition to the obvious physical demands, swimming also presents a plethora of mental hurdles as well. The way teams respond to these demands and challenges ultimately determines the success of the team. Here are five qualities of a successful swim team.
1. Define goals for every race.
There is no such thing as luck in swimming. Jumping into the pool without clearly defined splits is a poor strategy for success. In a sport where every race is a time trial, it can be tough to cope when the numbers don’t add up.
While it is unrealistic to expect to PR every race, the best swim teams clearly identify SMART goals and focus on progression towards these goals. For overarching goals, check out our Natatorium Record Boards to keep track of season long objectives.
2. Do the little things right.
The little things in sports often add up to big things. Executing adequate recovery routines, arriving early for pre-practice stretches and planning time for post-practice roll outs may not seem like a big investment in your performance, but adding these simple steps to your workouts pays off over the course of the season.
3. Dedicate time to improve technique.
When our bodies are tired, our technique is often the first thing to go. Efficient techniques will reduce wasted energy and carry you through the finish line far quicker than powering through with poor form.
Each week try to focus on improving one technical element of your stroke. Pick a specific aspect of the stroke like clean quick turns, smooth streamlines or consistent breathing and ask a coach to tape you during practice so that you can see when you are doing it right and when you need to tune up your form.
4. Adopt a team-first mentality.
Although most events are individual, all swimmers are still on a team at the end of the day. Pushing each other to a fast time, competing for the relay positions and being supportive every day will strengthen the team dynamic. While winning events is great, the team determines who wins the meet. Successful swimmers understand that they win or lose as a team.
5. Trust the coaches, the training plan and the team.
What the mind believes the body achieves. Trusting your training is hard, especially when it feels painful or unnatural. While the discomfort is inevitable, there are mental strategies that can help you feel more centered.
For example, when your shoulders are throbbing, think about how strong your quads are and envision your body compensating for the pain. These tips and tricks can help you get through a tough practice by focusing on your strengths.