RACE DAY! What you can do to stay ahead….

DSA swim team

33rd National Inter-Club Swimming Championships – President Cup, the biggest swimming event of the year for the swimming clubs all over Malaysia will be held at the National Aquatic Centre, Bukit Jalil this year on the 28th to 30th of November. As always, it’s a much awaited event, with local and outstation swimmers vying for the best timings to go further in their pursuit for state and national team spots. The competition is intense and it’s very essential to stay prepared and focused over the 3 days of competitive stress that is bound to wear down even the strongest.

As someone who has been through it and more, here are some of my handy tips which have helped me along the way.

  1. Getting enough rest- You have been training consistently for a few months and when you are preparing for a meet, your coach will lower down the intensity and also the mileage. Your body needs time to adapt with the lower intensity so you need enough rest for the body to get used to the change in the training schedule.
  2. Stand less – The legs are very important as it is your motorboat to get you faster to the finish, so it is important that you do not tire up your legs by standing for long. So do get a chair and sit down when you can.
  3. Eat wisely and in moderation – You will have the tendency to over-eat during the week before race day because your body starts to feel fresh and you will have a better appetite. On race days in particular, do watch out on what you are taking in, because taking in too much sugar will not be good for your body. You may have a blood sugar rush and after 30 minutes it will drop drastically and it will most probably affect your race. The best way to counter this is to have an intake of slow release carbohydrates like quinoa, oats, sweet potatoes, lentils and muesli. These are effective carbs as they release slow energy which help you sustain your energy longer and thereby perform better.
  4. Drink lots of fluids – Dehydration can lead to higher blood pressure and concentration of blood which makes circulation more difficult. A well hydrated body will produce a higher performance level by keeping the blood pressure within limits and having lesser stress on the heart. Therefore drink fluids at timely intervals to stay hydrated.
  5. Self-talk and visualize– Talking to yourself may sound crazy and insane, but it is essential to mentally psyche yourself about your performance and talking to yourself is the best way to go about it. During competition times, most swimmers have excessive thinking due to all the excitement and can even have self-doubts. Self-talking and recalling videos of races you have watched earlier on the internet can help you remain calm while helping to push yourself for a better performance.
  6. Where to focus – When the intensity and mileage of the training gets lesser, focus more on starting off the blocks, turning from the walls, finishing to the wall, number of strokes from the flag, number of underwater strokes from the start to the flag etc. When race day nears, you have to be sharp about the details as well. Sharpness in the details can improve performance in fractions of second which do matter at that level.
  7. Prepare for emergencies – Have additional pair of essentials like goggles, swim cap, swimsuit etc., because you can never say when you might snap a goggle or rip a suit. Being prepared reduces the stress and tension should an emergency happen.
  8. Enjoy the day – Last but not least is to enjoy your race! Though you may not know, participating in Meets are the most exciting and fun events to be in! You get to meet new friends from everywhere, get to exchange team shirts, compare training schedules and finer points and you also get to race with faster swimmers! There is absolutely no excuse you should have not enjoy your race-day!

The writer is a National swimming record holder and currently a swim teacher/squad coach at DSA.