Training Tips

Swimming for Peak Performance

The three "P's" (Proper Prior Preparation) are the keys to a successful season. The factors, which determine peak performance, are:

  • Technique: Learn and implement the fundamentals of strokes, turns, and starts. Your body and mind must work together at every practice to develop efficient technique habits.
  • Endurance: Practice sets are designed to train specific energy systems. Swimmers need to operate at the proper pace or level of effort in order to improve a particular system. Consistent level of effort and mental "toughness" play an important role in improving endurance.
  • Speed: Develop arm speed and power - faster than race speed: 25's-12.5's.
  • Strength: muscular strength and endurance.
  • Mental Attitude: possess a positive, determined, and confident frame of mind. Only you can decide that you will do whatever is required to be successful by doing whatever is necessary to swim fast. It is a voluntary choice.
  • Diet/Fluids: Eat a well-balanced diet and maintain proper fluid intake.
  • Rest: Get the proper amount of rest; schedule time for relaxation and maintain a regular sleeping pattern.
  • Commitment: Manage your time and set priorities. Maintain the level of commitment that is consistent with your goals, attend the appropriate number of practices, and become self-motivated.
  • Goals: Set and achieve them!

Goal Setting for Better Performances

  • I wish I could!
    All motivation begins with a goal. It is the desire you have to get where you want to be. Motivation is all about having a big enough "why" or reason for doing something.


  • I think I can!
    A meaningful goal is:
    • Attainable: can be realistically achieved.
    • Specific: narrow in focus
    • Positive: what you will do rather what you will not do.
    • Affirmed: put you goals in writing, tell the coach about your goals and make the necessary commitment.
    • Open-ended: even though you set specific goals, keep in mind that you may surpass these goals - don't let it limit what you think is possible.
    • Measurable: specify how your progress towards achieving your goal will be measured and set a time limit.


  • I know I can!
    Develop and follow a plan to achieve your goals. Focus on the process rather than the outcome. Your commitment or behavior must be consistent with your goals. Remember the 3 P's - Proper Prior Preparation.


  • I knew I could!
    Achieve your goals at a specific meet. Set new goals and follow the same process. Become as good as you desire to be.

Good Nutrition for Better Performances
Athletes need to eat a nutritious, well balanced diet to fuel their bodies. They should eat a variety of food everyday: lean meats, vegetables, fruits, grains, beans, and low fat dairy products. Athletes should limit their amounts of processed foods, saturated fats, and sugars.

  • Eat Regular Meals!
    Skipping meals can lead to out-of-control hunger, often resulting in overeating. Skipping meals can also lead to low energy levels especially when the athlete is training and competing. Start each day with breakfast.


  • Avoid the Good Food, Bad Food Concept!
    Foods aren't good or bad. What makes a diet good or bad is how the foods all fit together. Balance, variety, and moderation are the key words in selecting a healthy diet.


  • Make Eating Fun and Healthy!
    Variety adds nutrients to your diet. Athletes need about 40 nutrients everyday to maintain health and not one food contains all of them. Balance your food choices - you can't perform at your best by eating only one food group.


  • Snack Smart!
    Snacks are a great way to re-fuel. Choose snacks from different food groups.


  • Make Diet Changes Gradually!
    Just as there are no super foods or easy answers to a healthy diet, don't expect to totally revamp your eating habits overnight. Changing too much, too fast can result in failure. Eat healthy foods that work best for you.


  • Drink plenty of water!
    Water is one of the most important nutrients we can put in our bodies. Performance will suffer if our fluid (water) intake is inadequate - just a 2% drop in body weight due to dehydration can have an overall negative impact on performance. Dehydration can stop even the finest athlete from doing their best. Do not rely on your thirst sensation to take care of your need for water. Exercise can disrupt the thirst response and athletes may stop feeling thirsty before they are fully re-hydrated. Therefore, athletes need to drink water before, during, and after practice or the meet.


At swim meets eat the foods that work best for you. Sip water every 20 to 30 minutes and eat small amounts of food frequently during the meet. Sport drinks should be cut with water to avoid too much sugar that can upset your stomach. Do not drink sodas during the meet. Eat a well-balanced meal two to four hours before the meet to allow time for it to be digested and leave the stomach. Energy should already be stored in the muscles from the meals eaten two to three days prior to the meet. If muscles contain insufficient amounts of energy, the swimmer probably will not perform very well even with a nutritious pre-meet meal.

Maintain a well balanced diet and drink plenty of water. Your performance at practice and at the meets will be better when a healthy diet is followed.


Getting into the Zone for Better Performances
Get in the zone at the meets. The zone is that mental and physical state when you are ready to perform at your optimum. This can be at anytime during the season. The following steps should be practiced and refined at the meets during the season.

  1. During warm-ups, keep your first race in mind and get physically and mentally ready by:
    • Increasing heart rate and muscle temperature
    • Recalling goals and race pace
    • Visualizing the race
    • Working on specifics of the strokes, turns, starts, and finishes
    • Becoming familiar with the pool: walls, gutters, flags, and bottom


  2. 10-20 minutes prior to the race:
    • Review goals and race pace
    • Warm up again
    • Visualize race


  3. Immediately prior to the race:
    • Move around, stretch, get you heart rate up
    • Stay overly warm
    • Visualize race


  4. At the start:
    • Early/Mid-season Meets: focus on specifics!
    • Late Season/Taper Meets: trust your habits and let it happen!