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An empty swimming pool with lanes marked off.

5 Ways to Gear Up For a Rigorous Outdoor Swimming Season

02/04/2015, 5:00am PST
By Kelvin Cech

Are you ready for the summer?


The birds are chirping.

The seagulls are squawking.

The days are getting longer.

Believe it or not Vancouver, but spring in the lower mainland is right around the corner. And with spring comes bbq’s under a clear blue sky, mountain hikes without a full-body rain suit and of course: outdoor swimming. 

“You goof! It’s raining outside and I’m too sad to leave my house!” Sure, but it’s almost over, I promise. 

Take it from your friendly neighbourhood blogger, a converted Edmontonian: it’s not so bad, our soaked corner of the country will start heating up in no time. Unlike my former home. 

Anyways, while we patiently wait for that to happen, it’s time to kick our off-season swim training into a higher gear.

Whether you’re planning on competing in an elite swim event this summer or you’re thinking about trying out the NSWC’s famous Hell Week, here are 5 tips to plunge your body and mind into full-prep mode.

1. Engage in Mental Re-Focus

Swimming is a sport that requires an intense amount of mental preparation. When you’re in the pool, every twitch of every muscles is exaggerated because of the natural resistance of the water. Unlike hockey where you can coast around effortlessly when you get tired, swimming requires tireless mental dedication so you can deal with adversity in the pool. Standing on the blocks this summer waiting to dive in can be downright frightening, so pay attention to the power of your mind so it doesn’t get the best of you

2. Conduct a Physical Re-Tool

Once you’ve got the mental side of your training in check (read: the sun is out and you’re no longer horribly depressed), it’s time to take care of your body’s physical ability to get the job done in the water this summer. When preparing for a new season, it’s important to identify your weaknesses in problem areas while also paying attention to the things you’re good at.

Hopefully you’re injury-free and refreshed, but if you’re not, then kick your re-hab up a notch (at your physiotherapist’s discretion, of course. 

Check out Kevin Koskella’s 3 Things to Focus On in the Offseason for more exercises you can try to get physically ready. 

3. Touch Base With Teammates

While swimming is mostly an individual sport while you’re in the pool competing, every swimmer has the benefit of a swim team they can lean on for support and guidance. There’s never a bad time to check in with teammates to ask how their preparation is going. 

4. Stay Involved

If you’re not already involved, then get involved! The best part of being a youth athlete in any sport is the ability to give back to your community. Heck, some of us are fortunate enough to make money off the back of that community. 

Whether you’re volunteering or working, being around younger athletes and coaches will help reignite the fire inside, the passion you have for swimming, the urge that first encouraged you to jump in a pool and start kicking like your life depended on it. 

5. Spend Some Relaxing Time in the Water

At first, when we’re young, swimming is about releasing yourself to the power of an unnatural element. Learning to swim can be terrifying, just like re-learning to swim (or do anything after time off) can be intimidating. 

Instead of waiting until an official practice, hop in the water on your own to get re-acquainted with the murky depths below. Floating aimlessly or slowly working back into the swing of things will go a long way toward overcoming any mental hurdles you may have about the season to come. 

The summer swim season brings with it blue skies and cheerier dispositions - it’s a fantastic time of year for countless reasons. 

Are you ready for it?

photo credit: fraggy via photopin cc

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