Here is the proposal:
Every four years when the Olympics roll around, the world suddenly rediscovers the sport of swimming. Over the past two weeks while swimming aired on primetime television, my Twitter feed blew up with swimmers and non-swimmers alike tweeting about swimming races, different swimmers’ toned physiques, and whether they were Team Lochte or Team Phelps. I’ll be the first one to say that I LOVE the attention that our sport receives during the Olympic games.
As you may have figured out from the topic of this blog, though, I’m interested in getting the message out that becoming a world-class swimmer comes with a long journey. Perhaps this is why I was so frustrated after the first day of swimming coverage when Michael Phelps failed to medal in the 400 I.M. and the world collectively turned on him. Suddenly, according to my Twitter friends as well as the media, he was a failure and none of his previous achievements mattered. I was most disappointed when I saw my own swimming peers bashing the man that changed our sport and made history just four years ago. Every swimmer has experienced a disappointing race during their career, but most don’t have to have that race broadcasted for the world to see.
Four years ago in Beijing, I believe the world was left with an unrealistic representation of our sport. They watched everything work in Phelps’ favor and believed that it could all be done again. The truth is that swimming is a lot more like what we saw at these Olympics in London. While we saw a man officially become the greatest Olympian of all time, we also saw him make mistakes and face disappointment. We saw fresh faces of the sport dominate in one event and falter in another. Ultimately, we are left with the realization that the career of a swimmer is a long journey with bumps along the way. In the end, though, we will remember the legacy these athletes leave behind and the adversity they overcame.
Congratulations on a fantastic career, Michael Phelps.
The end of July and beginning of August marks a very busy time of year for swimmers everywhere. It doesn’t matter if you are on a summer team, club team, or even the Olympic team—the end of the summer is the championship season for swimming. Between preparing our summer swimmers for their championship meet and training for my own final meet of the season, it has been difficult even to find a few minutes to sit down and crank out my next blog post! But, my summer swimmers ended their season at the Freestate League Championship meet on Monday and now I find myself with a little free time.
Something that my co-coach and I stressed to our Gator swimmers as we approached our final dual meets and championship meet was the importance of learning from past swims. For younger swimmers, this can be extremely difficult to understand. Many of our young swimmers tend to dive into the water and forget about everything we’ve worked on in practice. As we neared the end of the season and discussed races and worked on fixing mistakes in practice, it was amazing to watch our swimmers dive in for a race and apply what they had been working on. By the time we got to the championship meet, our swimmers had made great improvements that were visible when they swam their final races.
The importance of learning from past swims doesn’t just apply to novice swimmers—it applies to swimmers at all levels. As my teammates and I enter our final week of preparation before our last meet of the season, our coaches continue to stress that this is the time to perfect the details. And believe it or not, even Olympic swimmers analyze their swims to find mistakes to improve on (yes, they makes mistakes too!). In fact, elite swimmers perhaps spend the greatest amount of time analyzing their races. Video analysis allows us to watch, pause, and even put races in slow motion. This helps us pick out a mistake as small as a finger entering the water incorrectly
My message to swimmers still preparing for their championship meets is to think about swims from this season and learn from them. If it worked for my Valley Gators, then it can work for you too!