Monday, May 28, 2012

Racing vs. Swimming

Racing is something that I do not feel that I see enough of. Generally, I watch swimmers get wrapped up in qualifying standards and forget to beat people. Here's a specific case at a very high level: Mens 200BR at Canadian Olympic Trials. 3 men coming into the finish who were all trying to keep their race controlled to what the sports scientists told them to do: stroke count, event check list, etc... but none of them looked even remotely like they were trying to make a move or even concerned about the swimmers around them in the last 50m; they were all trying to hit the Olympic Qualifying standard and swim to a certain time... problem is: you have to beat people to go to the Olympics... and the plan should be to beat people AT the Olympics. As a result, Scott Dickens made the team by winning the event. So by forgetting to be competitive and racing, they get to stay home (thanks for the insight on that race, Randy). 

Please don't misinterpret what I am getting at: I am not saying that race plans are not important, nor am I saying not to listen to coaches or sports scientists. What I am saying is that sometimes the focus is far too heavy on the clock and not whats happening around you. 

HHBF swam at the GMAC LC Invitational this past weekend in Guelph, ON. I always enjoy this meet as it is a great opportunity to race LCM but also there are tons of athletes around the same time. Heats and heats where all 6 athletes are within 6 tenths of a second apart in entry time. This is the most ideal situation to race because everyone is in range of beating or being beaten. 

I encouraged all of my athletes this weekend to "shut off the clock" and just try to beat people; then see what the time outcome was. The results were great! As I am still waiting for the official results to be posted, notable results off the top of my mind are:

Jordan Stott - huge meet with lots of time dropped in most events. Great 400FR on Friday!
Simon Olsen - Excellent RACING! 200BR was fantastic.
Jeffery Jiang - 200BR was a work of art. This guy has only been swimming for a year and had a breakout weekend.
Quinn West - Some HUGE pbs and solid racing!
Alex & Viktoria P - Both swimming with purpose and some good drive. Loved to see good pbs from these 2.
Chris Zanewycz & Loren Monhemius - narrowing in on provincial standards and positioning themselves well to get it done at Central Region Champs.
Michael Jans & Brooklyn Shelley  - dropping more significant time in freestyle events and swimming much more consistent times.
Erin Troughton - Just missed Central Regions in 100FR in her come back from injury. A lot of hard work an mental determination are paying off for her. Great to see!
Ted Mosoi - Ted seldom doesn't race, but did so very well this weekend. Some great finishes for him!
Anthony Hartsink - Great FR races this weekend and really wowed me on Sunday!
Nicole Waddick & Mackenzie Warnock - Both qualifying for Central Regions! Congrats!
Aysia Leckie - Qualifying for 200FR for provincials and under 2:20 for the first time... by racing.

Please don't stress out if I didn't mention your name; there were over 55 Blue Fins in the meet and about 300 individual events swum. On the whole, all of the groups swam very well; there were lots of PBs and new qualifying times for various meets. I apologize if I missed any additional qualifiers in the above. Official results have not yet been posted at this time and I only did the ones I knew for sure.

One last thought about time standards:

Livy Olson qualified for her very first provincials in 200FLY about a month ago but sadly her birthday is right before provincials; thus, she will not be able to go. Livy has a great attitude about this problem. Next season, Livy plans to aim towards the standards above her age class and work to get those ones. Kyle Haas went through a similar dilemma earlier in his career and it became a non issue really quickly when he decided to think of himself as a year older than he actually was.
The point is; do not let a time standard goal determine your worth. Swim careers should last a very long time. Swimming at the age of 11-14 should be the beginning, not an end point. Keep working and learn from falling short or set backs. One thing about this sport; people that stick with it develop great character!