Welcome to my post-meet-have-been-driving-in-the-car-for-three-hours writing extravaganza. I’m writing this blog on the car ride back from Richmond, and Joyce is still at finals, so it’ll only be my thoughts and opinions today:). This past weekend Joyce and I both attended a swim meet in Richmond, Virginia called “Sectionals.” To say the least, it was a rough experience (at least for me). Not to mention the fact that we’ve suam a single long course practice in the span of the last two years before this meet. For those of you who are not as invested in swimming as we (well, Joyce, maybe not me) might be, long course is, as the name implies, longer than short course. Short course compared to long course is like the light shower of rain that comes before a thunderstorm- nothing in comparison.
While swimming is definitely a physically challenging sport, in my opinion it’s just as much about mentality and attitude. I can’t speak for Joyce, but the majority, if not all of the events I swam this weekend were what the average swimmer would call “distance events.” Personally, I don’t find it as daunting as most people do when I tell them the list of events I’m swimming, which basically consists of the top six longest events available. But I also think a large part of it comes from attitude toward your final results because sometimes things just don’t go your way, and that’s totally okay. It took me a really long time to accept that failure is inevitable in a sport like swimming because no matter how hard you work at every practice and how much effort you put into every swim, it’s not going to end perfectly every time.
Now, the reason behind why it didn’t go as planned is not for me to tell you how to figure out because I don’t even know myself, but I still think it’s important to keep in mind that one bad swim or one bad meet, or, heck, even one bad year doesn’t define you as a bad swimmer. That would be like saying if you smashed your toes into the corner of your desk once, you’re going to do the same thing again and again every time you go to your desk. That’s unreasonable and also just plain stupid- no you realize what went wrong, and you correct so that it doesn’t happen again. Sorry, guys, I don’t even know what I meant to write here, so I apologize if you read this part and it makes absolutely no sense.
Awww, Rin’s dedication to our “Scribbling” blogs really shows; after my evening swim session today, I hopped on our Google Doc ready to write, but she already had it covered! Rin’s the sweetest person ever, and I love her so much.
Hey, everyone, it’s Joyce! As Rin mentioned, I was a little preoccupied this afternoon with a pretty painful 200 breaststroke swim, but now that it’s done, I can shift my attention away from the pool and onto this “Scribbling” article and editing my term paper that that’s due tomorrow. So a little inside scoop here: At the “Sectionals” meet this weekend, I asked Rin if there was anything in particular she wanted to write about. As usual, she said, “I don’t know,” but after some discussion, we thought that writing a “takeaway” that we had from this meet would be cool.
On that note, my takeaway for this meet, which is nearly identical to Rin’s, is that there isn’t really such a thing as a “bad swim.” Now before I have people angrily messaging me giving me reasons to why I’m wrong, I’ll provide a little anecdote here. On Friday and Saturday, I swam a few of the same events as Rin (the poor girl had to suffer through the 800 freestyle, and I didn’t), such as the 400 individual medley and 200 butterfly. Going into this meet, I’ve never raced a 400 IM long course before, so I wasn’t quite sure how to pace my swim. Thus, when the time came for me to dive into the water for my event, I did what many swimmers do when confronted with fear; I swam my race way too conservatively. (Rin and another teammate of mine can attest that my 100 backstroke split in the 400 IM was seven seconds slower than my 100 breaststroke split and that’s not good.)
Once I finished my race and got out of the water to talk to my coach, he wasn’t particularly pleased with how “relaxed” I swam. He wasn’t angry or upset at me at all (one of the many things I love about him is he doesn’t yell at me when I swim poorly!); however, for the rest of the day I was pretty disheartened with myself for allowing a “bad swim” to happen.
The next day, I had the 200 butterfly event, and I went up to my coach for my usual pre-event talk. He suggested for me to pace the race similar to how I’d swim my other 200s and to actually “swim like I care” (pretty much his exact words). So when I got behind the blocks again, I was as nervous as one gets for the 200 butterfly. Thoughts of my “bad 400 IM swim” came to my mind: What if I fail? I thought to myself. What if I let me or my coach down? What if I can’t finish the race? We haven’t done that much long course swimming; will I be able to swim a 200 butterfly? Sometimes you just have to focus on what you can control and quiet down the negative voice that’s in your head. Yes, I was nervous and thought of how my “poor swim” from the day before was; however, that 400 IM from yesterday doesn’t determine how I can swim today. And when I got out of the pool with what I think is my new best 200 butterfly time (I rarely swim that event, so don’t count on me to remember the time), I now know that going forward, shushing voices that don’t serve you and focusing on what you can control can help prevent “a bad swim” from getting into your head and affecting your future performances.