Healthy Tips By Megan
Most health professionals don’t recommend eating in the
car, after school snacks on the ride to practice are crucial for
swimmers. A pre-practice snack is essential to maintain a high
energy level and fuel muscles for the work ahead.
Car snack ideas:
Granola bar and banana
Trail mix with dried
Crackers and string
Horizon Chocolate milk box
(no refrigeration needed) with Fig Newtons
Pre-packaged servings of various nut butters. These products are
great to eat on the go! Throw a pack into the car or swim bag
and eat it on anything like fruit, bread, crackers, or
pretzels. Nut butters come in a variety of flavors like
peanut and almond, and provide athletes with protein and good fat.
Enjoy with a carbohydrate such as a whole wheat bagel to make a
powerful post-workout snack.
Check out the website for a store near you!
To maintain proper fluid levels in the body, ALL
swimmers—regardless of age—should come to practice with
a full water bottle and leave it at the end of the lane. For
practices 60 minutes or less, an athlete needs about 2 cups (1
water bottle) of water during the workout. Swimmers training for
multiple hours should drink a sports beverage (Gatorade or
Powerade) or diluted juice (1 cup water/1 cup juice). These
beverages provide carbohydrates and electrolytes. Rule of thumb:
for every hour of training, an athlete should drink one full water
Signs of Swimming
Staying properly hydrated is vital for athletic performance.
Swimmers oftentimes have a hard time recognizing sweat loss because
they are immersed in water. Five signs an athlete needs increased
fluid intake are:
2. Dark yellow urine
4. Muscle cramping
5. Lightheadedness /Dizziness
Megan Nechanicky is currently working towards an MS in
nutrition and exercise physiology at San Diego State
University. Megan is a former MCSL, RMSC swimmer and TIBU
coach and currently trains and races at the Elite level in
triathlon. Learn more at MeganNechanicky.com.
A is for Anxiety
If you want to swim fast, you’ve got to prepare yourself
mentally. That’s not always an easy process. Beginning this
week, Sport psychologist Aimee Kimball, PhD., introduces a series
of articles on usaswimming.org that makes mental training as easy
The ABCs of mental training will run every two weeks. This
week’s topic is Anxiety
Why do I have anxiety?
Many athletes have anxiety before they compete, whether
it’s a pounding heart, difficulty breathing, tight muscles,
or worried thoughts. All animals have what’s called the
fight-or-flight response in which our bodies prepare to either
fight a challenge or to run away from it. These symptoms of anxiety
aren’t always bad, as they can signal a readiness to compete.
Think of a race you were involved in that wasn’t important to
you or where you knew you would win it easily. You probably
didn’t have the same signs of anxiety because you
didn’t see this event as being as threatening. The perception
of a challenge/threat is what makes athletes feel anxious.
Changing the Perceived Threat
If situational factors (event importance, your opponents)
cause you anxiety, focus on controllable factors that help you to
swim well- a smooth stroke, a strong kick, and a well-timed start.
When you start to add “uncontrollables” to your focus,
you are adding thoughts to your head that don’t need to be
there and are making it a lot harder to swim to your potential.
To release anxiety, take some long, deep breaths and picture all
the physical and mental stress leaving your body. You can also take
a few minutes each day to go through your muscle groups, tightening
them and then relaxing them. By doing this progressive relaxation,
you can recognize when and where you are carrying physical tension
and learn to physically loosen your muscles so that you can perform
Anxiety as you know it doesn’t have to exist. You
may have some physical activation (faster heart rate, quicker
breathing) but you can control this. Simply think how you want to
think and leave some time for a pre-race routine that allows you to
physically relax. While it requires training, you can regain
control of your body by taking control of your mind.
Make it Great!
For more information contact:
About Aimee C. Kimball,
Dr. Aimee C. Kimball is the
Director of Mental Training at the University of Pittsburgh Medical
Center’s Center for Sports Medicine. She received a PhD from
the University of Tennessee where she specialized in sport
psychology. She is an Association for the Advancement of Applied
Sport Psychology Certified Consultant, and is a member of the
American Psychological Association, the United States Olympic
Committee’s Sport Psychology Registry, the USA Swimming
Sports Medicine Network, and the NCAA Speakers
Bureau. As a Mental Training Consultant, Dr. Kimball
has worked with professional, collegiate, high school,
recreational, and youth athletes in a variety of sports, and assists the Pittsburgh Steelers in analyzing
potential draft picks. She has been a featured
speaker at conferences across the nation and has
appeared in Men’s Health Magazine, Runner’s World,
Athletic Management Magazine, various local and national
newspapers, and has appeared on ESPN, NPR, and news broadcasts
across the country.
She is a Clinical Faculty member in the
University of Pittsburgh’s Department of Orthopaedics and an
adjunct faulty member in the Sports Marketing Department at
Duquesne University. Currently, Dr. Kimball works with athletes and
other performers to assist them in achieving success in sport and
B is for Building Your
Mentally preparing yourself to swim fast can be as easy as
A-B-C. Sport psychologist Aimee Kimball brings usaswimming.org her
second installment of the ABCs of mental training —
“B” is for Building Your Mindset.
Check back in two weeks to find out what “C” stands
How should I think to swim well?
Every individual has a unique mental state under which he or she
performs best. There is not one right way to think. The key is to
know what you are thinking and how you are feeling when you perform your best.
How do I know my ideal mindset?
To identify your ideal mindset, think about the best performance
you ever had. Ask yourself:
What did I do to mentally and physically get ready (music,
Was I relaxed or pumped up?
What did I focus on throughout the event?
What words describe how I was feeling? What I was thinking?
How do I recreate this mindset?
First, you have to choose to create your ideal
mindset and take responsibility for your thoughts. Second, before
each practice and event you should develop a
routine that allows you to recreate this mindset. Imagery,
music and positive self-talk are great ways to build your ideal
mental and physical state. Third, you can come up with a trigger word, phrase or action that reminds you of the
characteristics of your best performance. This trigger needs to
have meaning to you so that it can focus your mind to help you
perform your best. Write the trigger on your hand, goggles or bag
so when you see it you will be reminded to think that way and to
approach each event with your ideal attitude.
Build your mindset
Instead of just hoping you will be mentally ready to compete, take
control and create the mentality you want before each event. Know
your ideal mindset and choose to create this mindset through
pre-event routines, trigger words and by simply telling yourself,
“This is how I’m going to think today.”
Make it Great!
Mentally preparing yourself to swim fast can be as
easy as A-B-C. Sport psychologist Aimee Kimball brings
usaswimming.org her third installment of the ABCs of mental
training — “C” is for Confidence.
Confidence is a Choice
Many people think the only way to be confident is to
be successful. While it is easier to believe in your abilities when
you have had proven success, it is not the only way to feel a sense
of confidence. Confidence is a choice. It comes
from choosing to focus on your strengths and knowing that you are
good. It comes from choosing to be positive with yourself. It comes
from focusing on what you need to do to swim well rather than
uncontrollable, situational factors. Most importantly, confidence
comes when you’re not worrying about being the best, but when you are focusing on being your best.
How Can I Create Confidence?
The first step in creating confidence is preparation.
If you fully engage physically and mentally in practice, you will
feel more prepared when competing. Focused practices allow you to
trust that you did everything you could to enable yourself to
perform your best.
Second, it is important to act confidently. Our mind
reacts to what our body does. If your head is down, your muscles
are tense or your shoulders are hunched, your mind will sense your
self-doubt. So always make sure your body language and your
communication with yourself and others portrays confidence. Even
when you don’t feel confident, act and think
Finally, realize you don’t need other people to
tell you that you are good. Many athletes wait for coaches to tell
them they are swimming well in order to believe in themselves. You
may want others to tell you that you are good,
but it’s not something you need. You
already know when you swim well, hearing it from others is just
icing on the cake.
Make it great!
· Be on time for
practices; arrive 10 minutes before start time.
· Notify coaches before
the line-up is finalized if you cannot swim at a Saturday meet.
(You MUST notify the coaches by Thursday evening if you are
unavailable for that Saturday.)
· Don’t forget the
last chance to sign-up with your coach for Wednesday meets is no
later than the Monday evening practice before.
· Be on time for warm-ups
at swim meets.
· Cheer for your
· It is the responsibility
of the swimmer to come to the coaches after they swim in a meet to
· Each age group: 8 &
under, 9 - 10, 11 - 12, 13 - 14, 15 & up, will have different
cleanup responsibilities for practice and meets.
Please let the coaches know if you will be on vacation and will not
be available for a meet. This plays an important role in
the lineup. Thank you!
· Make sure that your
swimmer(s) are at the pool during their practice time.
· Post the team calendar
in your home and know your
· Transport your
swimmer(s) to and from meets and practices.
· Supervise your children
at meets and activities.
· Notify the coaches of
swimmer availability for Saturday meets by entering dates not
available in the coach’s log (they must know by Thursday if
your child is not available for Saturday’s meet).
· Check the newsletter
& website each week for changes, updates and news.
· Help with your
· Refer to the MCSL
handbook for swimming and meet rules, locations, phone numbers,
times, records, etc.
· Volunteer your time at
least four full meets during the season (officials, timers,
café help, automation, and ribbons are just a few choices) -
there are a variety of jobs to suit everyone’s
· Do not talk to your
child during practice unless there is an emergency. (Parents and
younger siblings must be clear of the deck area where coaches stand
· Any question or comments
you have for the coaches should be addressed before or after
practice, or put a note in their folder in the team box.
· Cheer for all
children, not just your own.
Practice Makes Perfect (Actually Perfect
Practice Makes Perfect)
One of the
biggest determining factors of a successful swim season is how well
& how consistently swimmers train. This is especially true at
the beginning of a season. Regaining that “feel for the
water” is one of the most common obstacles that swimmers will
experience and the ONLY way to get past it is to get swimming. But
swimming is a lot more than just swimming back and forth which is
BORING according to some of my swimmers and I can’t disagree,
practice will never be like a day at 6 flags. Swimming back and
forth IS boring. Sure you can always sing a song while you swim,
but it’s usually something like the theme to “SpongeBob
Squarepants.” Even though that’s not a bad tune, you
never quite get beyond “OOOOOHHHHHHH Who lives in a pineapple
under the sea?”
The point of practice is to work on everything
that makes a great swim GREAT!! Practice does not always have to be
HARD in order for it to be CHALLENGING. Some of the most
challenging practices focus on the smallest details; streamlines,
flip turns, backstroke stroke counts, and great finishes are just
some of the “little details at practice that become big
details at meets” (This is copyrighted, so don’t steal
it!) We coaches say these things over and over and over again
because they are IMPORTANT!!!, not because we like how the words
sound coming out of our mouths.
Listening to the coach is one of the most
important things a swimmer can do at practice. Any common household
monkey can say “Swim 10 x 200 on 4:00.” But a real
coach says a whole lot more. Have you listened lately? So next time
try to make practice more than just about swimming back and forth;
make practice perfect.