Pre-Race Rituals

In honor of my next big meet starting tomorrow, I thought I would share some of my pre-race rituals with you. These are just a few different things I do before a big race to make sure that I get up to the block feeling 100% ready. I really hope that you find these interesting and helpful, but remember that you are your own athlete. Everyone’s going to have different mindsets before a race and will need to do something different from everyone else. Do you have your own pre-race ritual? And if you don’t, can you come up with one? Leave your ritual in the comments!

Day before:

  1. I always make sure that I get at least 30 minutes in the water the day before a race. I won’t do anything hard, just a meet warm-up and some dives and sprints, but I just need to make sure that I get a feel of the water. This can be hard to do, especially if you are traveling to your meet, but I find that even waking up extra early to get a quick swim in before your flight makes you feel a lot more confident about your race.
  2. Eat smart. While I always try to do this, I do this even more so the days leading up to a meet. If I have school that day, I will pack everything I’m going to eat that whole day the night before so I know I’m eating what I need to. I eat tons of fruit, nuts and bars, protein, and complex carbs. I love brown rice cakes with peanut butter and dried cranberries or bananas. It’s a perfect way to fill yourself up with protein on the go. I try not to eat too much meat or veggies the night before, just because they tend to be a little heavier and take longer to digest. Eat simple food that will digest and give you energy before your race.
  3. WATER! Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. 5% dehydration results in 35% loss in performance, so drink up!

Night before:

  1. Eat dinner fairly early and get to sleep as soon as possible. Give your body as much time as possible to digest all of your food so you swim with tons of energy and without a heavy stomach.
  2. Pack your bags. I always pack my bag the night before a swim meet. I find that I sleep so much better when I know that all I have to do in the morning is change and run out the door. Goggles, warm-up suits, race suits, caps (endless amounts of caps), clothes, jackets, and food. I have everything ready to go in my bag.

Day of the race:

  1. Get to the pool early. Nothing’s worse than stressing about being late to warm-ups or even your race. Don’t let that be the reason that you don’t swim well. I’d much rather get to the pool 15 minutes early that be running 5 minutes late, it just rattles your brain. Stretch, sleep, rest, do whatever you need to do to stay calm.
  2. Have a pump-up playlist. Some swimmers hate listening to music before a race, but I feel like (especially in the on-call room), having one earphone blasting music drowns out some of the negative thoughts around you. These are some of my must-haves on my playlist:
    • Turn Down for What- DJ Snake & Lil Jon
    • Die Young- Ke$ha
    •  Best Day of My Life- Gazzo Remix
    • Bo$$- Fifth Harmony
  3. If you are confident and excited about your race, there is no reason you shouldn’t have a good swim. When I get up to the block, there is nothing else I can do to prepare. I am confident that I have put in the work for my swim, and I am excited to finally race. Let yourself be excited, and be confident that you will swim your best. When I really stop and think about it, swimming that one race is ten times easier that what I do multiple times a day at practice. My body knows what it needs to do, and the time will be what the time needs to be.

If you have a big meet coming up, remember to stay calm and be confident! GOOD LUCK:)

My Letter to Swimming (6 months later)

To my love,

“I hated you. I really did. I wanted nothing to do with you, but you didn’t let me get away. And I didn’t let you get away. Whether I knew it or not, I always found an excuse to crawl my way back to you. And I did it again, but this time, a little different.  You put me through the hardest time in my life, but now I know why you did it. Like always, you did it to teach me a lesson. You did it to give me a tiny little taste of what real life would be like. As hard as it was to be put through that, it was a reminder for me that nothing will get in our way. We will always, no matter what, find a way back to each other. You reminded me of the strength that lies behind one’s passion. Once aware of your passion, the opportunities are endless, and what you must do then is take it and run with it. I’m so lucky to have had you to guide me through all of this. I’m so lucky to have you by my side no matter what we’re going through, reminding me that everything will end up the way it’s meant to, and that everything will be okay. For that I will be forever in debt to you.

I thought we were over 6 months ago. I really did. I thought that our time was up and that my goggles would come off for the last time. But thank you for showing me that our time will never be over. No matter what happens from this day forward, I know that you and I will be inseparable until the day I die.”

Discovering My Passion… AGAIN!

6 months ago, if you told me that I would be back in the water, in better shape than ever and captain of the team, I would have told you you were insane. But here I am, 6 months later, and I would have been wrong. You were not insane. It was a hard time to go through. All the lying and hiding and ditching practice, I’m hoping I never go through it again. But, it changed my life forever. I hated the sport, I wanted nothing to do with the water. I couldn’t stand to be around my coaches or the pool. I distracted myself, or at least I tried to. I kept everything inside for so long, not saying anything to anyone, even my parents. But finally, that day came when I had to let it all out. I had to tell people how I was feeling. That week, the day and the week after I told my parents what happened was the hardest week of my life. I thought I would never get over it. Someone close to me helped me gain some perspective at this point. She told me to take a step back. Take a couple weeks out of the water and see where it takes you. It might take you back to the water, it might take you somewhere very different. And whichever way I went, it would be okay. I knew that I had some other passions that I never had time to pursue. I was interested in nutrition, I was passionate about body image and I wanted to help others learn how to be healthier. But what could I do about this? Well, those two weeks out of the water ended up being the most clarifying two weeks of my life. I found so many opportunities that I never would have discovered if I didn’t pull myself away from the pool. I began working on projects that I became so emotionally attached to because of how passionate I was for those things. At that point I looked at my life and thought that finding these new passions meant that I was done with swimming. The time had come and I was ready to hang up my suit one last time. Boy was I wrong. Although it was a grueling process that took a long time, I found my way back. I started swimming again simply to stay in shape. I had no desire to go the extra mile or to race, I just needed to keep my body moving. And after a 1 month break, 2 months of swimming for exercise, 2 months of swimming on my own over the summer, and 1 month of swimming with our new team (shout out to Eagle Swim Club!!), I found my passion. Was it a new passion? No. Did I always know it was my passion? Yes. So why did I think I found my new passion? Because I did. I had lost touch with the water for so long, that I had come to terms with the fact that it was over. Discovering my passion again felt like no other feeling. It was a Tuesday afternoon about 3 weeks into school, and I was on the bus home after a hard practice and this rush of happiness fled over me. I couldn’t figure out why, but now I know. It was the moment I fell in love with swimming (again!).

The Power of the Team

As an athlete, I believe that one of the most important aspects of any sport is the camaraderie formed between teammates. I have been extremely fortunate to have such an amazing team that I have trained with, raced with, and grown up with for the last 12 years. I met one of my closest friends, Kaitlyn, when I was 4 years old (through swimming), and it has grown into one of the most valuable friendships I have ever had. Every single day at practice, whether we’re talking to each other or not, we are pushing each other on, we are cheering for the other person, and we are always there when the other one falls down. I can honestly say that I wouldn’t be the swimmer or person I am today if it wasn’t for my teammates. So many people ask me how I am so close with my teammates, even though swimming is an individual sport. I always answer that ‘because swimming is an individual sport, we form an even tighter bond’. I know that may sound weird, and maybe you have to be a swimmer to understand it, but simply being surrounded by all these people for so many hours a day creates an unbreakable bond. Waking up for the grueling 5:30 morning practices, and just barely surviving the 3-hour afternoon practice, we literally swim through the sunrises and sunsets together. We’re there to push each other, to race each other, but also to comfort each other. We’re there to cheer each other on during that killer 400IM or 200 fly, to celebrate with them when they’ve won a race, but also to just be there for them when they’re crying after a bad race. Even though swimming is not a ‘team sport’, I would say that a swimmers’ teammates is the most valuable thing they have. I know that my teammates are the ones who drive me to swim faster every set, or to do that extra 100 fly, and I am beyond grateful for them.

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I decided to step outside my little swim world for a bit and do a bit of research on how working out with other people can be beneficial. I became a leader for an after school workout session at my High School, and I began ‘Flight Club’ (agility work) a couple months ago. I quickly learned that working out (in my experience), is the best way to grow friendships. After talking with High School PE teacher, basketball coach and Flight Club Coach Scott Mackinnon, and High School Junior and basketball and softball player, Sydney Pieske, I was able to gain more insight as to how working out in a group can benefit your workout, as well as form bonds (check the video below to see their interviews!). When you’re working out by yourself, the only person to push you is you. As soon as you start to get tired or unmotivated, it’s extremely hard for you to pick yourself back up. If there are other people around you, they’re able to motivate you, even when you’re starting to feel like you can’t do it anymore. It becomes so much easier when you know that other people care about you and want to see you succeed. When someone else is there, it makes working out physically and mentally easier. Also, working out with a group of people is just so much more fun! You can turn everything around just by being around other people. Instead of quietly just sitting to the side because your starting to get sore and tired, complain about it with your friends and turn it into something you can talk about. Instead of skipping the last rep because you’re too tired, turn it into a competition with a friend to see who can lift the most or do the most reps. There are so many ways that you can improve your workouts, simply by having someone there. So go grab a friend and hit the gym! “Friends who work out together, stay together.” –I totally made this up;)

Click here to watch –> Interviews

The Benefits of Yoga

 

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“Aummm, Namaste”. When most people hear this phrase, they think of a relaxing, low intensity workout called yoga. While that phrase does in fact represent yoga, many are mistaken about it being relaxing and low intensity. Yoga can have a relaxing element to it, however it requires an enormous amount of core and back strength (helping to create a good sense of balance). Using your core and back to keep you up and balanced, yoga works to stretch out and elongate your muscles, keeping you aligned at the spine. For swimmers, flexibility and keeping your muscles long is very important to hold your technique together, and allowing that extra reach at the end of each stroke. Most swimmers will get tight very quickly from all the dry-land, weight, and swim workouts. If swimmers don’t take time to stretch properly after every workout, they are going to get tighter and tighter every time which can result in injury, especially around the shoulders. Yoga and swimming have always been two activities that have gone hand in hand. The minimal gravity effect of swimming leads many to believe that you cannot get injured through swimming. It is true that you won’t break an arm in a matter of seconds or get a gash in your leg, but over time, your muscles and joints will start to wear and tear, unless you are taking care of your body. Yoga is a great way to make sure that you are keeping your body in tip top shape, to reduce the chances of getting an injury. “Most people have no idea how good their body is designed to feel” -Kevin Trudeau. Allow yourself to look inside and see how good your body can feel.

Butterfly or Butterdie?

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One of my favorite swim quotes ever is “The stages of a 200fly: Butterfly, Buttertry, Butterwhy, Buttercry, Butterdie”. I love this quote because it is hilarious, but also 110% true. All of my swim buddies think that I’m crazy for wanting to swim the 200fly at a meet, or not minding doing a 2.5k fly set in practice, and sometimes I think I’m crazy too! Here’s what I’ve realized about the 200fly; after the first 100m, your arms are hurting so bad that they become numb and you can’t even feel them anymore. At that point, all you need to do is move your arms in circular motions (which you are an expert at) and try to move through the water as quickly as possible. You don’t even need to think about what your arms feel like until later. After the race finishes, you will be so excited that you did well (hopefully) and that you finished! When you are floating there in the water desperately trying to grab onto the lane line, is when it hits you. You are gasping for air and using the lane line to keep you above the water, while also trying to rip your super tight goggles and cap(s) off your head. So here’s my point: a lot of people think that a 200fly is super long and really hard. Well it is really hard, but at the end of the day the 1st 100 is painful, but after that you feel so dead and numb everywhere that you can’t even feel the pain anymore. For all you swimmer’s out there who are terrified of the 200fly, maybe you should try it! And who knows, maybe you’ll fall in love with it like I did!