Coach's Corner

Healthy Tips By Megan

Pre-Workout Fuel:

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 fruit
        Crackers and string cheese
        Horizon Chocolate milk box (no refrigeration needed) with Fig Newtons

Post-Swimming Snack:

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! 


Water Rules:
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 bottle.

Signs of Swimming Dehydration:
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:
1.    Thirst
2.    Dark yellow urine
3.    Headache
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

  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 that makes mental training as easy as A-B-C.

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.

Physically Relaxing
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 your b

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: 412-432-3777; [email protected]


About Aimee C. Kimball, PhD:
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 life.



B is for Building Your Mindset



Mentally preparing yourself to swim fast can be as easy as A-B-C. Sport psychologist Aimee Kimball brings 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 for.


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, routines…)?

·          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!




 C is for Confidence


Mentally preparing yourself to swim fast can be as easy as A-B-C. Sport psychologist Aimee Kimball brings 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 confidently.


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!



Swimmer Responsibilities

·    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 teammates.

·    It is the responsibility of the swimmer to come to the coaches after they swim in a meet to get feedback.

·    Each age group: 8 & under, 9 - 10, 11 - 12, 13 - 14, 15 & up, will have different cleanup responsibilities for practice and meets.


Vacation Dates

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!

Parent Responsibilities

·    Make sure that your swimmer(s) are at the pool during their practice time.

·    Post the team calendar in your home and know your

    swimmer(s)’ schedule.

·    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 swimmer(s)’ nutrition.

·    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 interests!

·    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 during practice)

·    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.