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HomeSwim Tips - Meets and Racing

Help! I Can't Keep My Goggles On! 
By Dan Frost

Recently, I was cruising down the information superhighway when I saw the following short message posted on a swim forum: 

"Any idea on how to keep my goggles on after the start on the blocks?" 

It caught my eye because I can not consistently keep my goggles on either. In practice, mine would come off almost half the time. My percentage of goggle retention in competition is slightly better, only because I tie the elastic headbands to "race tension," which for me is slightly looser than the pressure of a well-tied tourniquet. Even so, I have still had more than a fair share of starts where my goggles have partially flooded, fully flooded, partially shifted, or ended up around my lips. In freestyle, it is a simple nuisance, but in breaststroke or butterfly/IM starts, it is blinding. 

I eagerly searched around the newsgroup to see what other people were giving for answers. Some seemed reasonable, others seemed far-fetched. Here is a sample: 

"I have the same problem. One way a lane mates told me was to pull your cap down so that it is over the top part of the goggles. Ugly, but it does work." 

"I guess pulling your cap down over your goggles would help, but I myself wouldn't recommend it. If your goggles are coming off after your start, you've got one of two problems. 1) They need to be tightened, or 2) Work on your start, you're probably diving too low." 

"I'd have to agree. Get your head down. Think about getting your ears below your arms. This will force your head down." 

"I suggest moving the band up higher on the back of your head. Right over the bump on the back of your noggin. Also try to sandwich your head between your arms on the push-off or dive. This will make you more streamlined and protect your goggles from the brunt of the force of the water." 

"Tighten them." 

"Crazy Glue." 

"Binford 2000 goggle straps, now with turbo boost holding power." 

"I prefer to wear Swedish goggles and find that they never come off. After I put my goggles on, I place my fingers on the top of the goggles and pull down with a little force. If it feels loose or pops off, I reposition them or tighten the straps. I always check right before I step up to the block, too." 

"The straps going in back of your head must be placed higher than your ears, as high on your head as possible." 

I made some adjustments to my starts at my most recent competition, based on some of the more reasonable suggestions listed above. Mostly, I concentrated on keeping my head down and my arms close to the ears. I kept my "Swedes" at "race tension" with my swim cap over the headband (but not on the lenses themselves). The result: Four clean starts in four races. I was overjoyed that I did not have to resort to Crazy Glue.

Swimmer's Time Conversion: Convert your times from meters to yards or vice-versa ... it's great!

Mind Training Tips for Swimmers 
by Craig Townsend 

Training Great, But Terrible In The Meets?

Often I hear about swimmers who 'train the house down' for months, only to swim terribly in the meet they had been gearing up for all that time. 

It's important to know first of all that this common problem has absolutely nothing to do with the 'physical or technique' side of swimming. It's purely the mind's reaction to the pressure of the meet - and also the month's-long 'build up' to the meet, which then impacts upon their technique during the races. So by simply making some mental changes, your results can change too - but of course, it does take some discipline to make these mental changes. 

The answer to stopping this situation occurring (or getting out of this situation if you are already in it) lies in your attitude and mental approach - and so here is your 5-Part Action Plan:

  1. Look at meets and races in their 'true' perspective. For instance, how many millions of people will know about the results of this meet? (Often) none! Will the results be broadcast all over the country or around the world? No. Is this race life or death? No. Will you continue to live after this meet? Yes. OK, so we've just discovered that this meet is not as important as we first thought! In fact, compared to many other things going on in the world right now, it could pretty safely be considered UN-important! So really there's no need to stress out about it at all. There'll be plenty more meets after this one, so you might as well just relax, enjoy yourself and go for it. The more fun you have, the better you'll perform, anyway.

  2. Secondly, look at the races from your competitors' viewpoint - look what THEY have to deal with in their race - YOU! You certainly wouldn't want to be in their shoes, would you?! They might be the 'favored' swimmers to win, which means ALL the pressure is on them, not you, and they see this young whipper-snapper looming at them (you), trying to de-rail their dreams! So always remember, THEY may be scared of YOU.

  3. Next, it's important to build yourself up mentally. Reinforce the positives about yourself - going over all of your own positive attributes. Literally ask yourself "what's great about me?" and begin to think of (and write down) all the things you've done in the past which made you feel great about yourself. (If you cannot think of anything, it simply means you are not thinking hard enough - because EVERYONE has positive attributes. And so the answer "nothing" is not only banned from this list, but worthy of a firm kick in the butt).

  4. Two more important things. It's important to regularly visualize yourself winning the races and swimming fabulous times, imagining a brilliant meet where you have nothing to lose, everything to gain, and that you're the 'dark horse' who comes from nowhere and shows them all who's boss!

  5. The other thing is to talk positively to yourself, using positive affirmations and upbeat thoughts (no, not aloud - in your mind!) - become your own inner 'cheer squad' who constantly tells yourself how great you are. This can transform your results more than you could ever possibly imagine.

So to overcome the 'great training/bad meet' blues - here's the action plan. Put the meet in its true perspective, then look at the races from your competitor's viewpoint, build yourself up mentally, and then visualize and affirming to yourself how great the whole experience is going to be. 

So if you find yourself stuck in a negative pattern, change it. You can create your life into anything you WANT it to be. You've got the action plan, now the rest is up to you!