ERSC Team Goals
Adopted By: Tonya Nascimento
1. Know your times.
First, you need to know your times. I have seen countless swimmers consult the heat sheet to find out their time just before swimming a race. They then, on the spot, make a goal to beat that time during the race. There are three problems with this method.
One problem is that sometimes the heat sheet is wrong. The swimmers then find out they were upset about swimming slower when their coach entered them in a made-up faster time for more competition, or they find out they were ecstatic about a best time when they were entered weeks ago and have actually already since swum faster. Heat sheets are not a reliable source for finding out your best times.
A second problem with this method is that consistently beating the time in the heat sheet during mid-season races is not realistic. Even if the heat sheet shows their best time, the older and faster a swimmer is, the less often best times will occur during the season. There needs to be a recovery and taper period to get the body and mind into peak condition.
A third problem is they have not prepared themselves to beat the time. Picking a time to beat just before racing is like walking through a maze (or from the light switch to your bed) for the first time in the dark. Once you know the maze, your body seems to "know" where to go. Similarly, your body and your mind need to communicate what it feels like to swim certain times. This work takes place in practice first. If you pay attention to your times as you swim sets, you can get a feel for a 30 second 50 freestyle or a 100 backstroke in 1:10. If you need to take out your first 50 of a 100 freestyle in a race in 28, you need to have developed an idea of what that speed feels like.
2. Set progress goal times for practice meets.
In order to reach your goal times, there needs to be a process of preparation. In addition to end-of-the-season goal times, you also need goal times for the meets leading up to the target meet. Some coaches call these "practice meets" to emphasize their role in preparing swimmers for the target meet.
For instance, say a female swimmer's best time in the 100 backstroke is 1:00. She would like to break a minute at the target meet. During the practice meets she typically swims 1:02. A good practice meet goal would then be low 1:01 so that it is easier to drop below 1:00 at the end of the season.
3. Set progress goal times for practice sets.
In order to get to 1:01 at the meets, times in practice need to drop as well. Perhaps this hypothetical swimmer usually paces 100 backstrokes in practice at 1:06. With a little more rest, she drops to 1:04. Goal times for practice might then be 1:04-1:05, and low 1:03 with more rest. By consistently paying attention to times in practice, your body starts to "know" what it feels like to swim a certain pace.
In order to make these drops in practice, progress goals in areas other than time need to be met. Changes in technique might be necessary. More rest or more carbs might be needed. Positive self-talk or a willingness to challenge oneself might need work.
4. Progress is not all about times.
The emphasis thus far has been to show how times can be used to improve during practice and mid-season meets in pursuit of the desired best time. However, it is important to keep in mind that times are only one marker for improvement, and there will be days when the goal times just will not happen. It in no way means the drop to a best time will not happen either; swimmers often perform much better than expected in the right conditions. In other words, you might not reach your practice goals times or your meet goal times, but with a little more rest, or with other responsibilities set aside for the "big meet," or with the excitement of the championship, you might still reach your end of the season goal. Never count yourself out; just use goals to help motivate you on your way.
Also keep in mind that improvement is not always indicated by time. Other markers for improvement can be measured with your progress goals apart from times. When there are changes in race strategy or technique, it is expected to swim slower at first because of the thought involved in making the changes. Once the changes become automatic, then the times will start to drop again. Therefore, slower times, but better technique, also indicates improvement toward a drop at the end of the season. Define for yourself (with the help of your coach) what indicates improvement in a specific race.
Sometimes you might need to take the pressure off dropping time. When it comes down to it, swimming is about putting 100 percent of your effort into a race so that when it is over, you know you could not have done one thing more, regardless of what the clock says. If you can do that, you will experience success.
5. Refocus on improvement and adjust goals when needed.
"There are no failures - just experiences and your reactions to them." ~ Tom Krause
Failure and success are perceptions based on whether we fell short or exceeded our expectations. This is one reason to have realistic expectations; it ensures success is possible. But we can fail to reach even realistic expectations. Your work all season long is to increase the likelihood of success at the end, but even with the best preparation, there is no guarantee.
After the target meet focus on what you did well and where you can improve. Maybe you reached all your goals. Congratulations. You still need to figure out what you did well, and where you can improve. Maybe you were disappointed with your times. Refocus on what you did well and where you can improve. You might have actually swum faster, but had a few little mistakes that meant the faster speed did not show in your time. You might have improved in most or all of your progress goals, but did not have enough time in one season for it to come together at the championships; maybe one more season will allow that happen.
As swimmers, we want to get faster, and it is only with perspective that I can say this: a tough and positive attitude and outlook developed in pursuit of reaching your full potential is a truer marker of success as a swimmer than the final best time in your personal record book. Remember goals give direction. They are meant to motivate. They are not the marker of success or failure as a swimmer, only markers of improvement and what to do next. There is so much more to swimming than the time on the clock. Use your goals as a tool to improve daily, and you will leave this sport with the perception of having succeeded.
ARTICLES FOR SWIMMERS (see attachments)
Nutritional Cheat Sheet PART ii
BY MIKE MEJIA, M.S., C.S.C.S//Special Correspondent
Start out with a proper breakfast. This does not entail grabbing a bagel with cream cheese and eating it in the car with a large orange juice on the way there. The bagel, especially if it's made with white flour can really jack up your blood sugar levels. Granted, the fat in the cream cheese will blunt this affect somewhat, but add in the OJ and you'll be all fired up for warm-ups and likely crash shortly thereafter.
The best-case scenario is to sit down and eat some slow cooked oatmeal (prepared the night before) with fruit, or some eggs and whole grain toast, or whole grain cereal with skim, or low fat milk. If it's an early meet and you must eat on the run, at least make it a whole grain bagel with peanut butter, as the these two foods together make up what is known as a complete protein by providing your body with all the essential amino acids it needs. Trade in the OJ for a lower sugar sports drink and you're good to go. Some more foods to stay away from include bacon, sausage, croissants, doughnuts and sugary breakfast cereals.
As far as what you should have in your bag for snacking, I think the best way to address this is with a list of what you should bring, vs. what you should not bring.
What to Bring:
1. At least 32 oz. of water to drink during and after the meet.
2. No more than 16-20 oz. of sports drinks that meet the above criteria.
3. Energy bars: Try to stick with bars that have less than 10 grams of fat, and less than 35% of their calories from sugar (the lower the better). To calculate this: multiply the number of grams of sugar by 4 and then divide that number into the total calories. Some recommended brands include: Kashi TLC Bars, and Odwalla Bars.
4. Whole grain pretzels, crackers and cereals.
5. Nuts, seeds and dried fruit (in limited quantity due to the relatively high sugar content).
6. Lower Sugar Fruits: Strawberries, Apples, Cantaloupe, Blueberries, Raspberries and peaches.
What not to bring, or bring less of:
1. Chips of any type. Most are loaded with fat and calories.
2. Goldfish, Cheese Nips, or any other types of crackers made with white, enriched flower.
3. White Bagels and Breads.
4. High Sugar Fruits: Banans, Raisins, Pineapple and Grapes.
5. High Sugar Energy Bars: Many types of Power Bars fall into this category.
6. Fruit Juices of any type: Too high in sugar and don't clear the gut as rapidly as sports drinks, possibly leading to stomach cramping.
7. Soda. This one's an absolute no-no!
8. Cookies, candy, gummy bears, or anything else along those lines.