Find your joy


How to not freak out before and during the big race

I panicked,” said Cullen Jones, the 6’5 sprinter still dripping.

It was moments after the 50 meter freestyle final at the 2008 United States Olympic Trials, and Jones, a favorite to qualify for the American team going to the Olympics later that summer in the event, had placed a disappointing 3rd.

His assessment of the race?

He had come unnerved, spun out his wheels, so to speak.

As a result, he wouldn’t be swimming the event in Beijing later that summer.

Jones had succumbed to the pressure in an event that is probably more high strung than most—the splash and dash that covers the length of the pool in a thunderous, white-washed 22 seconds.

But as most competitive athletes full well know, you don’t need to be trying to qualify for the Olympic team in a pressure-cooker of an event like the 50 to be crippled by the pressure and anxiety that comes with trying to perform at your best.

Getting Lost in the Externals

Even though we aren’t all chasing down an international podium, Jones’ experience probably feels familiar.

From getting psyched out by the crowds and noise, to overly focusing on the competition, to over analysing every aspect of how we feel getting behind the blocks, the experience is all too common.

So what we can do corral the anxiety and pressure that surges up as we stand up to race?

And what can we do to keep ourselves focused on our own performance instead of that of our competitors during the race?

Create an Anchor

One way to stay calm and relaxed is to create a set of cues for your race.

Before your next big race sit down for a few minutes and write out the various aspects of your race and how you’re going to execute them. With each stage of your race attach how you want to perform and feel.

Identify the scenarios where you are most likely to get flustered (or where you have struggled to keep focus in the past) and put together some cue statements to fall back on so that you stick to your race plan.

(To anticipate a question: No, you shouldn’t base your cue statements on what anyone else is doing. For example, “Be one body length ahead of the field,” is not a helpful cue statement.)

Here are a few examples:

  • If you know that you are going to be tense and over-excited at the beginning of a race, string together a couple cue words like, “Long and strong” or “Fast and smooth!” to help you stay relaxed.
  • If you typically catch yourself getting too jacked up behind the blocks, use a couple lines such as, “This is supposed to be fun!” and “This is what we do!” to help you stay calm and loose.
  • When that last 50 comes along, and your legs and lungs are burning, and the swimmer in the lane next to you is roping you in, use statements such as, “It’s go time!” amd “I will not be outworked!” to help you power through.

Best Practices

Here are a couple tips in designing your own set of anchors:

Make your cue statements simple. Complicated and long doesn’t mean better. The more simple your statements, the more you can focus on it. Consider “loosey goosey” versus “stay long and relaxed and remember to breath deeply and keep calm.” Keep it simple.

Describe a feeling. Instead of thinking to yourself, “swim super fast with perfect technique” during your first 25m, use a couple keywords like, “relaxed speed” or “easy fast.” You shouldn’t have to think about the technical components of your swimming when it comes to race time (that is what is practice is for).

In Closing

Cue statements can act as a powerful anchor to stop your mind from running wild on you. They’ll ground those stress-inducing and confidence sapping thoughts and keep you dialed in on your performance and executing the game plan you have for your own race.

The next time you have a big meet coming up take a few moments and write out a small series of cue statements that you will use before and during your big race so that you swim with more focus, more confidence, and more awesome.

Keeping a daily swim log is an easy way to develop and actually use your cue statements on a daily basis so that you actually, like, use them!

Click here when you are ready to get started with your own log book.


P.S. As some of you may know, I am booting up a little column on the YourSwimBook website called “Ask YourSwimBook.”

Each week I get lots of emails and questions, and very frequently I find that a lot of the questions overlap and touch on the same themes. Which made me realize that if some of you are struggling with the things you are writing in about, there is a larger silent majority that are as well.

So if you got a question for me, send it in, and I will make you mildly swimmer famous by posting your question and as detailed an answer as I can fit within a blog post. I’ll credit you by your first name and last initial (or both initials, if that is what you prefer– your privacy is my number one priority outside of bathing and eating food), and hopefully we can get some sweet conversations going.

So email them in by hitting reply, or fire me a Tweet over on the old Twitter thingy (@yourswimbook).

I look forward to your questions, so let ‘err rip!


Should You Cool Down after Exercise?

Dr. Gabe Mirkin’s Fitness and Health e-Zine  April 26, 2015

Cooling down means that after vigorous exercise, you move far more slowly for several minutes before you stop exercising for that session. The only known benefit of “cooling down” is to keep you from feeling dizzy or passing out after very vigorous exercise. However, cooling down has not been shown to:

* reduce next-day muscle soreness (J Hum Kinet, Dec 2012;35:59-68),
* help you to recover faster so you can compete sooner or improve flexibility (J Hum Kinet, March 2012;31:121-9),
* improve fitness level,
* make you stronger (J Strength Cond Res, Nov 2012;26(11):3081-8), or
* prevent injuries.

Exercise-Associated Collapse
Most cases of exercise associated collapse are caused by stopping suddenly. After a long race, you should slow down gradually. Cooling down prevents feeling faint and passing out. Exercise-associated collapse is the most common reason that athletes are treated in the medical tent following an endurance event. It is caused by the loss of muscle pumping action caused by suddenly stopping exercising. On the other hand, when a person passes out during a race, it can be caused by a more serious condition that can kill a person, such as a heart attack, irregular heartbeats or heat stroke (Physician and Sportsmedicine, 2003;31(3):23-29).

Postural Hypotension
At the end of a marathon, a runner sprints over the finish line, falls down and lies unconscious for a short time. What’s the most likely cause? The possibilities include dehydration, hyponatremia (excessive fluid intake with too little salt in the blood), heat stroke (a sudden uncontrolled rise in body temperature), drunkenness, a heart attack or stroke. Usually it is none of these. Almost all athletes who collapse after finishing a marathon suffer from postural hypotension: lack of blood flow to the brain because blood drops from the brain to the legs. Treatment is to lie the person on his back, raise his feet high over his head and wait for him to revive. If he or she is not alert within seconds, you should consider the more serious causes of unconsciousness and get medical help immediately.

Professors at the University of Capetown in South Africa analyzed data on runners who collapsed during an ultra-marathon (Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, Sept 1994;26(9):1095-1101). Most cases occurred after the runner crossed the finish line. The few cases of collapse away from the finish line were caused by diseases such as asthma and heart damage. Most cases of collapse occur in runners near the cutoff time for an award. All of the runners who collapsed had an excessive drop in blood pressure when they went from lying to standing.

Mechanism of Passing Out
During vigorous exercise, your legs drive your heart, your heart does not drive your legs. First, your leg muscles contract and squeeze the blood vessels near them to pump blood toward your heart. Then the increased amount of blood returning to your heart stretches the heart and causes it to beat faster and with more force. Then your leg muscles relax and the veins near them fill with blood to start the next cycle. When you run fast, your leg muscles do a considerable amount of the work pumping blood through your body. If you stop suddenly, the blood pools in your legs and your heart has to pick up the slack. At the end of a long race, your heart may not be able to pump more blood, so not enough reaches your brain and you end up unconscious. Cooling down will prevent this.

Cooling Down Does Not Prevent Next-Day Muscle Soreness
Some people believe that cooling down gets rid of lactic acid so that you will recover faster for your next competition or training session, but this is not true. Lactic acid build-up lasts only for a few minutes even if you do not cool down. Muscle soreness after exercise is not caused by lactic acid; it is caused by small tears in the muscle fibers.

Best Time to Eat: Just Before or After Exercise

The most healthful time to eat is just before or after you exercise. When you eat any source of sugar, it is used for energy and a small amount is stored in your muscles and liver. All the rest is turned into a fat called triglycerides that is stored as fat, forms plaques in your arteries and blocks insulin receptors which can cause diabetes. One study showed that exercise prevents the rise in triglycerides that follows eating sugar (Diabetes, May 14, 2013). Another showed that exercising after eating sugar prevents the expected sharp rise in blood sugar levels and the high rise in insulin that can constricts arteries to cause heart attacks (J Atheroscler Thromb, April 19, 2013).

How Exercise Protects You
Every cell in your body is like a balloon full of fluid. A high rise in blood sugar after eating causes sugar to stick to the outer surface membranes of cells. Once there, sugar cannot get off the cell. It is eventually converted to sorbitol that destroys the cell to cause every known side effect of diabetes: heart attacks, strokes, blindness, deafness, dementia, impotence, loss of feeling and so forth. Many North Americans suffer very high rises in blood sugar even though they have never been diagnosed as being diabetic.

Resting muscles draw almost no sugar from the bloodstream, Contracting muscles draw sugar from the bloodstream without even needing insulin. The harder you exercise, the more sugar muscles pull out of the bloodstream. This effect is maximal during intense exercise, diminishes rapidly one hour after you finish exercising and disappears completely after about 17 hours. If you eat before you exercise or within an hour after you finish exercising, your muscles are far more sensitive to insulin and can draw sugar far more rapidly from the bloodstream.

Exercising After Eating Rarely Causes Stomach Cramps
Many people believe that they should not exercise immediately after eating because they remember mothers’ warnings that they would get stomach cramps. Exercising is only likely to cause stomach cramps if you are out-of-shape or eat way too much.

Exercise causes your heart to pump a large amount of blood to your muscles. Putting food in your stomach causes your stomach muscles to contract vigorously which increases blood flow to your stomach. Fit people have hearts that can easily pump blood simultaneously to both the stomach and skeletal muscles. Long distance bicycle racers, runners and cross country skiers eat very large amounts of food during races and virtually never suffer belly cramps. These athletes often have training runs that last many hours and they have to eat just to keep up their blood sugar levels during training. Otherwise they would pass out from low blood sugar because they don’t have enough sugar for the brain to function.

The final 90 days are key to your race preparation.

Here’s how to dial them in.

by AJ Johnson/ adapted by Vy Waller to an Olympic distant race.

While every athlete is different, following some general guidelines will help you

make it to the start line healthy and ready to race. Use these principles to tailor

your training to your own unique needs and to build a winning race-day plan.

With a progressive build involving race specificity and a taper to let your body

recover, you can be fully prepared to have the race you know you’re capable of.

12 to 14 weeks out

At this point in your race prep your training should start to become more race-day

specific. The key during this crucial time period is having the necessary volume

to cover the distance, but also maintaining the quality of each session.

By this time, you should be able to comfortably ride 15 miles. Over these 6

weeks, build to being able to ride the full 30 miles, or even slightly more. During

these rides, you should consider your race-day power/heart rate and ride in those

zones for longer intervals of 20 minutes to an hour. These rides also give you a

chance to get comfortable in your bike position and make any necessary tweaks.

What feels good for 15 miles may not feel good at the 30 mile mark. It also allows

you to experience what your shoulders, back and hips will feel like deep into the

ride. A 15 to 30-minute brick run off the bike is another way to make your training

more race specific. If you are cycling indoors you may want to run off the bike for

a 10 minute period and then return to cycling. Repeat.

The same principles apply to the long run. For most triathletes, running over 1

hour is not necessary. Keeping the long run to 45 minutes with some race pace

(or effort) intervals is a better option. If you do feel like you need to run longer, do

so early in this timeframe, 12 to 10 weeks out, to allow for more recovery but

ensure that you include the speed intervals in the run.

Most athletes do their long rides and runs on the weekends. I often suggest that

athletes swap the days for the long sessions. So, one Saturday would be the

long ride, then the next Saturday would be the long run. This gives you the

opportunity to have more quality in your long run versus running on tired legs

every week.

Next, these longer rides and runs are where you want to start to dial in your race

day nutrition and hydration plan. This process takes time, so if you haven’t

already, now is the time. Know what will be available on the course and see how

those products work for you. Carry your own only if absolutely necessary.

Weekday workouts should focus on race-day effort intervals. Consider your goal

times for the bike, swim and run and know your wattage, heart rate and/or pace

you need to feel comfortable at for race day for each section.

The last of these weeks can have a little less volume to allow for a micro-

recovery. This will give you the extra energy needed for a good final block of


8 to 4 weeks out

This block of training represents your last chance to add fitness. During the first

part of this block you can still be adding volume to your long days, but the

additions shouldn’t be more than 10 to 15 miles on the bike or 15 minutes on the

run. Big jumps in volume here can be very risky and cause a very ill-timed injury.

Your longest ride and run of the training should occur during this time.

If you haven’t already, begin adding in some long, steady swims for a set

distance, typically 2,000 meters. Perform a short warm up, one you can simulate

on race day, then swim at or near your goal race pace. Do your best to keep

even splits for each 500 by checking the pace clock or glancing at your watch.

Do some short heads-up swimming as well to simulate sighting for buoys.

Related Article: Sight Like an Alligator, Swim Like a Fish

Six weeks out is a good time for a long race-day simulation brick workout. Give

yourself a few easy days to rest before this key workout. The workout should

include a 2,000 swim a 30-mile bike and 5 mile run done in succession. During

each session, perform some work at goal race effort to further dial in your race-

day pace and nutrition. This workout will show you just how prepared you are

and gives you a more realistic idea of your splits for each segment.

This is also the time to finalize your race gear. Use your race clothing, aero

helmet and race-day wheels for at least part of this workout. Make sure

everything you need is in good condition. Use the running shoes you plan to

wear on race day run on at least some of your longer runs to mitigate the

chances of blisters, especially if you don’t wear socks and intend to use the

blister spray instead (right Alex).

4 weeks out

This is the time to really start dialing your volume back and allowing your body to

absorb all your training. In the last two to three weeks there is little you can do to

improve your fitness, but there is a lot you can do to harm it. Remember, it’s

better to go into race day 10 percent undertrained than 1 percent overtrained. If

you’ve been consistent over the past months, you’ll have the fitness you need to

perform well.

Many athletes find that a gradual two to three week taper works best. Reduce the

volume of your long days and your weekly overall volume by 10 to 15 percent

each week. Continue to do race-pace or faster intervals during your sessions, but

they should all be shorter than in previous weeks. This will keep your legs

moving and sharp, but the reduced volume will keep fatigue to a minimum. Every

workout should end with you feeling like you could have done a bit more. Resist

the urge to “test” the legs. If you are feeling particularly good, save that energy

for race day when it matters most.

This is typically an awkward time for most athletes. Being used to long rides and

fatigued legs, you suddenly find yourself with time on your hands. Rest is the

key, so don’t take this time to remodel your house. You may feel tired or

lethargic, but don’t panic. Your body needs time to absorb all those months of

training and adapt. The more you can rest and recover the better.

Believe in your training and trust the process.

Good luck in the next few months and happy racing.

5 Real Food Swaps for Endurance Athletes

Dried fruit

Looking to venture into the world of real food fueling? Start here.

by Pip Taylor

Sports nutrition has evolved over the last few decades from bananas taped on top tubes to a massive industry. Not long ago these types of new foods were barely in existence; now they seem almost mandatory, and especially for those focused on endurance activities.

From energy and electrolyte drinks to gels, bars, chews, recovery shakes and salt tablets, there is truly a product for everyone and every activity. If you can’t find your ideal combination, there are custom options where you can dial in exactly what you want. This wide range of options has indeed helped many athletes achieve success.

But there are other options. Real, whole foods that were, once upon a time, the only options.

There are many athletes who advocate the use of whole real foods in their training and racing, either in place of or in combination with some sports-specific products. Some athletes believe that their risk of gastrointestinal distress is diminished when they eat real food, while others find that they don’t tire as quickly with such foods over many hours of training and racing (a key element in staying adequately fueled). Others aren’t a fan of the preservatives, chemicals and concentrated sugars in sports foods and find that they are better able to control their intake when they use familiar, everyday foods. Others are turning to real food for its comparatively lower cost.

Related: How to Avoid Pre-Race Food Flops

There is, of course, a time and place for both. Real food is generally a more nutritious option, contributing not just to energy needs, but also an athlete’s elevated nutrient requirements. The more sports-specific (i.e: concentrated and refined) products can be saved for competition, or when a particularly grueling workout demands them.

Below are some simple swaps to try in training and possibly even racing. Test carefully—everyone tolerates different foods and racing throws extra unknowns into the mix, both in terms of tolerance and the practicality of having to carry food through an event.

1. Salt tabs: There is little evidence that athletes require extra sodium during events, despite higher sweat rates. Despite this, anecdotal evidence points to the fact that athletes are not only using salt supplements, but have found they are critical for performance, especially in the heat.

  • Pros: Easily swallowed with no salty taste.
  • Cons: Too easy to overdo as you don’t register the level of salt consumed through taste receptors. Too much salt can be dangerous and will definitely hamper performance.

Try instead: Any salty foods such as potato chips, pretzels, homemade salted bars, or salted broth. (And for Aussie readers, try Vegemite!)

  • Pros: Tasting the salt in your food and drink provides internal feedback to your body’s regulating systems, helping to make sure you don’t overdo your salt intake. Pills and tablets, while convenient, mean you could easily ingest too much leading to gut issues. Real food with added salt will also help break the sweet monotony of regular sports foods, which are usually highly sugared. This can help keep you interested in food (and thus getting the calories you need) throughout the race.
  • Cons: These foods can be harder to carry, especially during competition. They’re more vulnerable to sweat and weather, and many are susceptible to getting crushed in storage or travel.

2. Recovery shakes: These ubiquitous drinks offer carbohydrates and protein, perfect for that post-workout refueling window.

  • Pros: Convenient and portable.
  • Cons: Can be costly. Many contain additives and preservatives, and it’s harder to control what goes into your drink.

Try instead: Make your own by blending whey or other protein powder, plain yogurt (for probiotics and more protein), fruit (for flavor, fiber, antioxidants and vitamins) and nuts (fiber, vitamins and minerals, healthy fats).

  • Pros: Nutrition. Anytime you are eating real food you are accessing nutrients both known and unknown in a more natural state.
  • Cons: Convenience. Ingredients need refrigeration and athletes need access to a blender and a few minutes to prepare.

3. Chews and gels: These packaged snacks resembling either gummy candies or a tube of, quite literally, gel, come in a wide variety of flavors. Many are caffeinated.

  • Pros: Convenience, portable, long shelf life, consistent and usually available at event aid stations.
  • Cons: Can be costly per serving. Many contain additives and preservatives.

Try instead: Raisins, dates, other dried fruits.

  • Pros: Dried fruits are packed with energy so you won’t miss out on carbs. Plus, they contribute to other nutritional requirements, adding vitamins, minerals and fiber—something most packaged options skip over. They are also relatively portable and can be easily packaged for food on the go: just grab a small plastic bag or foil.
  • Cons: The extra fiber can be problematic for some athletes especially during intense exercise and result in more frequent bathroom stops.

4. Bars: This category of sports nutrition has expanded exponentially in the past few years. You can now find bars to suit almost any flavor, ingredient, or dietary preference.

  • Pros: Convenient, available in a range of flavors; textures, compositions and are consistent. Portable and long shelf life mean they can be kept in sports bags as emergency pre- or post-workout snacks.
  • Cons: Cost and added ingredients.

Try instead: Rice cakes and honey, bananas, peanut butter and jam, homemade savory burritos, bars, squares and cookies (as popularized by Alan Lim in his book Feed Zone Portables).

  • Pros: Cost, taste, better nutritional profile.
  • Cons: Decreased convenience and portability.

5. Antioxidant supplements: Athletes do have elevated requirements for vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Clever marketing has convinced us that the best way to meet these requirements is through a supplement. There is no evidence that antioxidant supplements are of benefit and indeed more recent research shows that supplementation can, in fact, blunt training gains and possibly even be detrimental to health.

  • Pros: Useful when you have been tested for certain deficiencies, or if recommended by a doctor.
  • Cons: More is not better when it comes to concentrated supplements, and there is no magic bullet. Cost is another major drawback.

Try instead: Increasing your intake of real fruit and vegetables.

  • Pros: Everything! Taste, nutrition, cost, variety, the list goes on.
  • Cons: None.

Pip Taylor is a professional triathlete and nutritionist. Visit her website at

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Swimming Golf !.?!

From triswimcoach
Open water swimmers and triathletes are often confused on how to get faster.

Often, they think that they need to simply swim fast to go fast. In other words, just train harder and do sprints at workouts.

Since swimming is so technique-focused,one of the best ways to getting faster in the water is to play a game called “Free Golf”.
If you haven’t learned it yet, here are the basics:

Do a set of 50″s, around 6 is good.

-Count your strokes on each 50 and get your time.
-Add these two numbers together to get your “score”.
-Lower your score each round by decreasing your stroke count, decreasing your time, or a combination of both.
-Keep going until you can’t go any lower.

Hint: Make sure you are not just kicking harder to get your stroke count down. Focus on hip rotation, hand extension, and high elbow pull.

If you have practiced free golf before and are looking for something new, try focusing on a different aspect of your stroke.

Recently, we’ve discussed the high elbow pull. Try doing your free golf sets with your main focus being to keep your elbows high on the pull. See what happens to your times and stroke counts.

You can always adjust as you go through the set.There are several variations of this depending on what level swimmer you are. For many of my beginner and intermediate-level swimmers,

I may have them do a set with Zoomers fins on, and a set with hands in fists, followed by a straight swimming set.

How low can you go?

More soon!

Kevin & Chris

Find out how to “laugh at the water” by going to:

IRONMAN 101: 3 Steps to De-Stress the Swim

Mar 26, 2015

by Julia Galan

When Dr. Steven White competed in his first triathlon in 2007, the swim was his worst experience and biggest fear. “I panicked upon plunging into the 56-degree water, unable to keep my face in, switched to breaststroke and subsequently tore my MCL during the swim,” he recalls. White completed the race that day, despite his unstable knee, and finished with an even stronger determination to conquer the swim.

And conquer it he did. Today White is a triple-IRONMAN finisher and long-distance swimmer, having recently completed the FKCC Swim Around Key West. Below are three of the steps he took before his last IRONMAN race (IRONMAN Maryland) to overcome his swim-related obstacles. If open-water swimming is your weakness, try incorporating these steps into your next training phase.

Develop your stroke technique

Many triathletes who are less familiar with swimming believe that their main focus in preparing for the swim should be to increase endurance. Thus, they often minimize any emphasis on stroke technique. Strapping on their favorite fitness device, these athletes relish the challenge of logging mileage or yardage and delight in comparing their distance to their online peers.

Unfortunately, churning out laps does not equal a strong swim on race day. These same athletes sometimes find that they are not as prepared for the conditions they face in the open water. Add in murky water, strong chop and currents, or flailing arms and legs of hundreds of other swimmers, and all that pool training suddenly seems less useful.

Related: 5 Essential Swim Drills

Although increasing endurance is indeed a significant factor in racing successfully, it’s only part of the story. Developing a strong technique should be your primary emphasis if you are a beginner swimmer, or if you are not as strong in the swim. This will allow you to gain efficiency, which is a key factor to making the water’s resistance work in your favor and not against you. Developing efficient technique will also diminish some of the anxiety that accompanies the open water swim. You will be able to maneuver around other swimmers more efficiently, swim straighter and stay relaxed and balanced in the water. Focusing on efficient swimming will also help keep your heart rate lower, lessening your chances of a panic attack.

White remembers his first triathlon swim clearly. He says the performance wasn’t bad, considering that prior to that race he had “absolutely no swimming resume, couldn’t swim more than 100 meters without resting and had the streamline profile of a river barge.” He says that after his experience, he joined a triathlon swim training group and his swimming technique and outlook changed. His decision to focus on stroke technique changed the course of his triathlon career. A coach who understands triathletes and their needs to get your technique analyzed can help you become a more efficient swimmer.


Many swimmers face anxiety in the open water simply because they haven’t familiarized themselves with race-day conditions. Swimming in a clear, calm pool with a lane all to yourself is a far cry from the open water, where crowds, choppy conditions or extreme cold can lead to disorientation and subsequent panic attacks. In order to minimize the discomfort you will be feeling during the swim, you need to prepare for the potential scenarios you’ll face by practicing, both in the pool and in the open water.

In preparing for his marathon swim around Key West, White followed a training plan that allowed him to increase his endurance, acclimate to the warm temperatures he’d face during the swim and practice implementing his nutrition plan. Although IRONMAN races do not feature marathon swims, your training plan should incorporate many of the same elements, with training completed both in the pool and in the open water.

Related: Video—Prepare Early

In addition to developing efficient technique, your pool training should include strength and endurance work using a combination of drill and interval-based swim sets to diminish both strength and skill-related anxiety potential on race day. Practice swimming the distance you will be completing during the race and incorporate longer swimming sets into your workouts. Implement drills that are targeted at fine-tuning open water skills, such as turns, sighting and drafting. If you’re able to swim with a group, try removing the lane lines and swimming together to at least partially simulate the jostling conditions you will face during the swim. The pool serves as an excellent home-base for specific training, so be sure to spend some time there even if you have access to open water year-round.

You’ll also need to spend time in the setting that is most relevant to your race day swim: the open water. Safety should be your number one priority, so be sure to never swim alone. Join a training group or register for open water clinics that will allow you to acclimate to the open water in a secure setting. You can often practice swimming the race course before the event, so be sure to take advantage of the opportunity to test it out.

Mental preparation

You’ve put in the time and trained smart. What’s next? Believe it or not, there’s more to swimming than just the physical effort. Another key to reducing open water anxiety is mental preparation, which can help you remain relaxed in otherwise stressful situations. Two of the most important concepts to practice are pre-race routines and cognitive control.

As sports psychologist Dr. Jennifer Lager writes in a recent article, “Having a pre-race routine is an important tool to cope with the nerves that are so common for swimmers.” Your pre-race routine should include external preparation, such as eating a certain meal, or testing your goggles and wetsuit and internal preparation, which includes visualizing your race and picturing how you will deal with the various scenarios that might arise. Visualizing what steps you will take if you get kicked, lose your goggles, or start to fatigue will help increase your confidence and assuage some of the inevitable pre-race nerves.

Practicing cognitive control is another important part of the mental preparation that goes into any open water swim. Cognitive control is the regulation of our thought processes and the amount of control that we have can be strengthened through mindfulness exercises. Being in the ‘here and now” through mindfulness allows us to become more aware of how we are thinking and feeling. This in turn helps reduce other distractions and thus diminish stress levels, an extremely important tool to use during an open water race when experiencing situations beyond our control. During his swim around Key West, White practiced staying in the moment rather than letting his thoughts wander, which allowed him to remain focused and methodical during his swim.

There are many different strategies to help reduce your anxiety in the open water, and the steps we have outlined are just a few of the possibilities. Work with a coach to develop a training plan that includes physical and mental preparation and you will feel confident and prepared for anything during your race-day swim.

Julia Galan is the founder and head coach at Swimspire, offering instructional services to swimmers of all levels and goals. 

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Uniform Update

Good day everyone,

I am pleased to attach the Art Proofs from Sugoi for our team uniforms.  The following Art Proofs are included:
– RS Tri Tank
– RS Tri Short
– Evolution Short Sleeve Cycle Jersey
Note: The white lines visible on the image are simply to show the size markings and won’t appear on the actual garment.

We have also received requests for Evolution Long Sleeve Jerseys and Turbo Tees.  Sugoi will deliver these Art Proofs early next week.

For the Tri Short, I believe you will agree that the logo doesn’t really look visually appealing. We would like to remove the logo from the rear of the shorts and perhaps have a marking on the white stripe along the leg. Attached image named WYTC-ShortOptions shows 4 possible choices:
1) Leave it Blank
2) WYTC Logo
3) Waterloo
4) Waterloo Y
Please send me your preference (1, 2, 3, or 4) and we will forward to Sugoi to prepare the Art Proof.  Forgive my image design skills – I’m not a graphic designer (but I did play one on TV once).

On Sunday, we will discuss the Uniform Order, check over the quantities to ensure we get discounts and review final pricing. Then when we receive the additional Art Proofs, we will review and submit final orders along with payment.  I suspect this will be coordinated towards end of next week.  Sugoi advised that orders take 4 1/2 weeks to produce and then perhaps another week for delivery so we still have time before race season.

Contact me if questions regarding the above.
Keep Tri-ing,