How do Swimmers continue when their instincts say stop?
It’s the beginning of the season and as this year’s swimmers dip into the pool, excitement sets in- but also stress.While swimming may look like a very easy and graceful sport to onlookers, being in the pool is very different. While it is beautiful and elegant to watchl, it is also intense and very technical. Every swimmer knows it is very important to push themselves, even when you feel like you can’t keep going anymore. However, since swim is a very repetitive sport, swimmers often find that focusing on the soreness of your muscles and rapid breathing will make you burn out faster. Each swimmer has a different way of keeping their mind busy, and it’s very interesting the different ways many people have come up with a unique coping method.
Aliana Winn keeps herself going by cheering herself on. “This is the only true method I’ve found to work for me. I’ve developed my own support system, so the biggest motivator I have in my life is myself,” Winn says. “Of course my teammates and coaches encourage and help me to be the best I can be in and out of the swimming pool, but at the end of the day I’m the one who has to put in the physical effort to get better. Cheering myself on has truly helped.”
Winn joined the swim team last year, and by the end of the year got the title of “most improved” because she moved up four whole lanes in only one year. She has found that this method of keeping herself going has worked better than any other method. “The other methods I’ve tried I would consider to be unhealthy,” she adds. “Usually, I would stop to take breaks multiple times towards the beginning of last swim season and say I was “fixing my goggles”, to get out of doing a certain amount of laps in a set. A lot of the time in practice would go by where I would tell myself, “In x amount of minutes this will all be over and I can go home,” so I wasn’t living in the moment. I was more focused on when I could leave the pool rather than the work to put in practices.” Throughout the season last year, Winn learned that living in the moment has helped her become the great swimmer that she is today.
Others, such as Caroline Buccacci and Amanda Allen have a more straightforward way of keeping their minds occupied. They sing songs in their head to keep a rhythm and distract themselves. Allen describes this as a way to keep her mind off of swimming when she feels she cannot continue a set of laps. Whether it’s a song she likes to listen to or just something she had heard earlier that day on the radio, it can keep her going. She even goes as far to say that she could not get through practice without it.
"I am thinking about something I like, instead of thinking of how tired I am or how much I want to quit,” she says. “Singing in my head, thinking about my day, or what I will be having for dinner helps me get through the practice.” She has also found other forms of distraction to work. “I have tried other methods such as doing math in my head or focusing on my stroke instead of how tired I am. Doing this to take my mind off of the set not only helps me keep going, but also keeps me from being bored during practice. Let’s be real… swimming in a circle while staring at the same black line the entire practice can get boring, so I do things to keep my mind busy,” Allen says.
Whether it’s keeping your brain busy or boosting your confidence, finding a way to push yourself is an important part of this sport. As Lincoln’s swim team pushes to new limits with our Division 1 title this year, swimmers excitedly hurry to figure out what works best for them. While they all know that winning is fun, it takes a lot of hard work and perseverance to get there. Every one of these coping mechanisms puts the swim team one step closer to victory, and every person on the team is readily preparing for this victory using them..