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A swimmer diving into a pool at the start of a swim meet race.

How Marlins Coach Marc Sze Used to Warm Up for a Race

06/17/2015, 5:00am PDT
By Kelvin Cech

The 5-step guide to a proper pre-event routine.


It’s tough getting personal information out of Marc Sze because he’s so focussed on the athletes he’s coaching these days. For Marc, it’s all about the next wave of swimmers and the next wave of talented young coaches. 

However, I’m good at my job and super charming, so I was able to coax a game-day routine out of the experienced swim leader a couple weeks back. 

Want a trusty method of getting yourself amped up mentally and physically the day of a big race? We got ya covered. 

“Well, everyone is different,” says Marc. “But when I was younger this is what I’d do.”

1. Mental Prep

“First things first I would get up and go for a walk to clear my head. The mental concentration required for swimming is so important, so I like to start my day off in the mindset. Then an hour or two before the race begins I listen to music. I have a few different mixes I like to get me in the proper frame of mind.”

There’s nothing quite like sitting in class, thinking about a game or event instead of listening about how 2 + 2 equals 5.

2. Activation Routine

“30 minutes before the race it’s time to really wake myself up and get physically ready. I go through a routine of stretches and movement to get limber and then a couple dynamic movements to fire up the right muscle groups.”

The mind is nothing without a prepared body, after all. 

3. Check In

“You’d be surprised by how often this step is missed. With swimming it’s a bit of a free-for-all sometimes. 10 minutes before the race make sure you’re checked in at the martial area. If there’s no ready room you just show up at the blocks without your name being called. Things change sometimes.”

And don’t forget your name. 

4. Activation Part 2

“10 minutes before the race, I’m checked in, my mind has been on swimming all day and my muscles are warm and prepared. At this point I’ll push my body to be in perfect shape for the race. You want to hit the ground running, as they say, so a couple faster activation routines and stretches so I’m 100% prepped when my fingers hit the water. “

The entire day leads up to that point where it’s you against the rest of the world. this is the moment in which you make the conscious decision to give it everything you’ve got. 

5. Pound My Chest

I wasn’t sure if Marc was serious about this one or not, but hey, everyone has their own little rituals. For Marc, it’s acting the part of a gorilla. 

“I’m up there on the blocks, it’s just me and I’m the only one who can get through this. This is the time to truly reconfirm your internal belief. I’ll take some deep breaths followed by shorter breaths and then I’m up on the block and it’s time to go. The gun goes off and it’s showtime.”

A full day of preparation for what might be 30 seconds in the water. It doesn’t matter though - whatever you’re preparing for, the mental and physical aspects of the event are a marriage of potential. Maximize both and you’ll be amazed at how high you soar. 

Or how fast you swim. 

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