After 2 years of almost no competition due to the pandemic, 2023 is again offering a pretty nice racing schedule. Our first big local competition just took place in Oregon City and drew about 100 swimmers from Oregon and Washington. It was fun to reconnect with some swimmers we had not seen for more than two years. April has a big competition schedule with the Pacific Northwest association meet in Federal Way on April 15 and 16, and the USMS Short Course National Championship in Irvine California the last weekend of April. Those are big meets which can be overwhelming if you are a novice swimmer and the National meet has time standard requirements.
However, whatever your level, you need to get ready for our Association Championship in Bend from May 19 to 21, 2023. It is our biggest meet of the year and it is the only one where you will represent your local workout group. There is friendly competition going on there and your team needs you. With all the different age groups, the different races, the numerous relays, almost everybody scores points for their team. It is a really fun weekend with a social on Saturday night, an opportunity to make new friends and better know your teammates.
Now that you are motivated, the first thing to do is register. Now you are committed.
In the pool, you probably have about 6 more weeks to get ready. Until about two weeks before, keep your normal schedule, especially if you are new to swimming. You do not need to increase your swim load or mileage but you need to put more emphasis on technique, speed, starts and turns. How does it feel to sprint: faster tempo, faster kick to put you on top of the water. Practice your turns, mostly the nice push with your two feet on the wall, the streamline underwater, the flip-turns. Remember you do not have to dive or flip-turn, you can start from the water. A fast open turn with a good push-off from the wall might be better for you than a flip-turn.
Here are a few more tips for the novice swimmer:
1. At least once, practice the races you are going to swim at your first meet at a fast pace. Take your time and it might be good to enter that time as an entry time on your registration. You will be surprised at how much faster you will go at a meet but this is a good benchmark.
2. Learn from that practice run and visualize your race. What felt good? How were the turns? Were the flip-turns too hard for me? Did I “die” in the middle of the race, or did I have too much energy at the end? If so, practice pacing or if a longer race, building up your speed.
3. Do I know the rules of the strokes and turns? If not, make sure to ask your coach or a teammate, way before the meet, so you can practice.
4. Enjoy the process and have fun with it. Do not stress out about performance or time. Whatever you do, it will be your own benchmark and an achievement in itself. It will just help you set up your next goals.
5. Be prepared to be a little stressed out on your first splash but I can assure you the nervousness will wane as the meet progresses. You might just be a little more tired and you probably will be pooped by the end, but you will be so proud of yourself.
6. The masters swimming community is very supportive. Both your coach and teammates will cheer you on, give you some tips on what to improve, and recognize your performance. Enjoy their company and have fun.
In my next article we will be about 2 weeks from the meet and I will share with you some more practical tips on what to bring, what to eat, and how to be mentally ready for your first splash!!!!