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Educational Notes

Educational Notes

Why Practice on the Day of a Meet?

When looking at the upcoming schedule, our athletes in the Junior and Senior Groups will have practice on the morning of Saturday, February 10. This is the third day of the OSHY Swim Series. This practice does not take the place of the meet. It is a full practice with the same expectations as any other practice. For those that have not experienced this, there are always questions that come up:

But won’t I swim slower at the meet?

Won’t I be too tired to swim fast?

But then I will be at the pool all day! When will I rest?

Can I just skip it and come to the meet?

Why not just go to practice and skip the meet?

All of these are valid questions I hope to answer here in the next few paragraphs. Like most questions about training and practice attendance, the real answer will depend on the individual’s goals and aspirations. We recognize the difference in all our swimmers and understand not everyone has the same desires to swim at a higher level right now. Our hope is to help kids figure out how to be great at swimming if and when they make up their mind to commit to being great at it.

“Our Mission is to provide all members the opportunity to reach the full potential of their goals and aspirations through the experiences gained by being a part of our team. By promoting the core values of the YMCA and our dedication to teaching the lifelong skills of commitment, work ethic, and patience, we offer our members a direct path towards continual personal growth.” This is the FCYST mission. It doesn’t require talent. It doesn’t require achieving a certain time or place. This mission requires our athletes to learn about what it takes to be better than average and to implement those strategies into their daily routine.

Back to my original train of thought. Why practice on the day of a meet? Ultimately the answer is, unless your objective for the season is to peak at the OSHY Swim Series, practice time is valuable and important the same way gaining race experience is valuable and important.

Every practice attended throughout the season or throughout your journey towards a specific goal is like putting money in the bank. The harder you work or the more you get out of a practice, the more money you deposit. When you choose not to attend a practice or workout it is like making a withdrawal. As missed practices accrue, the amount withdrawn increases exponentially. A three day stint away from the pool will mean on day four your body will not function on the same level as someone who has been at those practices. You will need to work extra hard and exert more energy to complete the same workout. In essence, you are playing catch up.

Giving away practice opportunities in order to see minor fluctuations in time can be likened to buying small comfort items instead of saving for a large and more desirable purchase. Why swim .3 seconds faster in January at a meet that means very little long term when you can save your “money” and swim 1.3 seconds faster in March at a championship meet?

The other answer to “Why practice on the day of a meet,” is twofold. First it provides a fantastic opportunity to train the body for prelims finals formatted meets. Most often large meets require athletes to swim at their absolute best twice in one day. Believing a practice in the morning will significantly hurt performance hours later is the same as accepting the premise you can only swim fast once a day or only when conditions are perfect. Second, learning to swim fast when the body is not perfectly primed to do so will help prepare you for the biggest meet of your life when something inevitably creates a challenge. Nothing ever runs according to “the plan.” More often than not there are hiccups along the way and knowing you are capable of overcoming those obstacles is more important than having perfect conditions to compete in.

So the exact answers to the five questions I asked above are:

Yes, you might swim slower but the long term benefit is well worth it.

You will only be too tired to swim fast if you have not trained adequately or you do not take care of yourself between swims.

Take advantage of the small amounts of down time you do have. Eat a healthy recovery meal and take a nap!

You can only skip practice if you are willing to accept and are okay with the possibility of not reaching your goals.

Both practices and meets have their own inherent value and it is important to take part in all aspects of training for big meets and big races. 

Toughness is a learned quality which is achieved through attacking challenges rather than backing down from them. It is a skill that can be applied throughout one’s life and across disciplines. Good athletes, good leaders and good role models know how to use obstacles to propel them forward. This practice, or any practice is always a chance to invest in your season ending goals as well as your long term goals. For those of you in Junior and Senior we will see you on Saturday morning!