95% of pools around the world are shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic, leaving millions of swimmers unable to train. To help swimmers navigate all of the unknowns right now, we’re sharing our top tips to endure the pandemic from a mental health perspective and a training perspective.
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Before we dive in, it’s important to understand 2 things:
- This is finite. The pools will reopen. It may not be tomorrow or next week, but they will reopen. It’s important to remember this, because it’s no good feeling down on yourself. We will get back in the water!
- We’re all in this together. These unfortunate circumstances have us missing our workouts, teammates, and competitions, and that’s ok. In fact, it’s ok not to be ok. Just know that we’re all in this together, and you don’t need to feel alone in this, even though it may feel that way.
Take a deep breath. Stay positive!
Related: How Swimmers Can Be Mentally Strong in a Pandemic
While it’s important to recognize that this is a finite problem, it’s just as important to first cope with the reality of how long it might take to get back into the swing of things. Rather than waiting every day hoping to hear the good news that the pools will be opening, re-frame this situation. It will likely be months, not weeks before you get back into a normal routine — this is out of your control.
Work on maintaining a positive mindset during this time. You can work on your mindset in a few different ways:
- Meditate or do breathing exercises to help regulate your emotions and energy levels
- Use visualization techniques to continue to get “mental reps”
- Write down your goals for the future
Find Your Why
Why do you love to swim? This is a time to crystalize and contemplate your own personal “why.”
Why do you participate in the sport? What meaning does it have for you? When things return to a new normal, what will all of this mean for your relationship with swimming? How do your personal values fit in with this? Take the time to write down your “why” to help you move through this time.
Stay Home. Stay Connected
The dramatic change from participating in a team sport to staying at home all the time can be jarring. For many swimmers, only their teammates and fellow participants understand how dramatic and emotional this change has been. Remember: We stay home and avoid the pool so the healthcare workers and people on the frontlines can keep us safe and save lives.
Use technology to stay connected! Don’t just sit behind a chat window, though. Have video calls with your teammates, coach, friends. Share fun videos on social media. Reach out to that swimmer on the team that you don’t normally speak with. Emotional connection in communication is 55% nonverbal, 38% in tone of voice, and only 7% in the actual words we use.
Join our Global Community Facebook Group to connect with swimmers from all over the world!
Control What You Can Control
Related: Can You Catch Covid-19 at the Pool?
Focus on what you can control. Don’t stress about what you cannot control. Swimmers are used to this mindset. You focus on your own lane. You can only control what you do. Instead of your “lane,” it’s your “house.”
What can you control? Your effort, your attitude and your response.
- Effort: Where are you going to put your time and attention right now? Think of ways to apply your work ethic and drive in small, helpful steps that you can complete on a day to day basis.
- Attitude: While it certainly is helpful to have a positive mindset and attitude right now, that can be incredibly difficult in the face of such a painful loss. Instead, be present and focus on what you’re doing right now.
- Response: With the myriad of things you cannot control at this moment, you really only can control how you respond to them—and how you respond in terms of your thoughts, your actions and your emotions.
Do something active every day. Set a schedule and stick to it! Whether you’re on a team and your coach sends you workouts or you look to MySwimPro for dryland workouts, having a routine is important!
Related: How To Work Out at Home
MySwimPro’s dryland plans are structured to help you progress to more advanced dryland exercises as you build strength in and out of the pool!
Check out these exercises that appear in the MySwimPro dryland programs!
Intermediate: Alternating Superman Extension
Advanced: Pushup Jacks
These other forms of activity are great, too!
- Meditation – move from negative energy to positive energy
Related: Lizzi Smith, Team USA Paralympic Medalist
Find Opportunities to Improve
In the midst of all the changes, the one thing that many swimmers now have is time on their hands. How you choose to use that time is an opportunity. Focus on things you don’t normally work on, but need to: Think shoulders, mobility and core strength!
- Fitness: Engaging in strength and conditioning, including programming you can do at home or outdoors, can help you maintain and even improve your strength, speed, flexibility, and agility.
- Nutrition: In the midst of limiting eating out as part of social distancing, this can be a great time to improve your diet, cook your own food and make more positive choices in how you fuel yourself.
- Mental training: Work on visualization to help improve your swimming performance. Close your eyes and walk yourself through a workout or an important race.
Related: Eating Guidelines for Swimmers
Set SMART Goals
You don’t need a pool to set goals! I recommend long-term planning. You don’t necessarily know what your next meet is to set a goal. Maybe you focus on nutrition, sleep, communication with loved ones, or strength goals. All goals should be SMART:
Examples of SMART goals include:
- I will follow the MySwimPro Max Performance Dryland program 4x/week at 8am.
- At the end of the 4 weeks I will do 30 pushups in 60 seconds.
Related: How to Set SMART Goals
Be A Swim Nerd
Be a student of the sport. Study races and learn from the best swimmers in the world! Ask questions — if you don’t understand something, ask us in the comments! Check out our educational videos and interviews:
- How Caeleb Dressel Swims a 17.63 50 Yard Freestyle
- How Adam Peaty Swims So Fast
- How Lilly King Swims a 55.73 100 Yard Breastroke
- The Greatest Olympic Swimming Race of All Time (Beijing 2008 100m Butterfly)
- The Greatest Swimming Performance of All Time (Beijing 2008 Relay)
Remember: Stay safe, stay healthy, and stay positive! We’ll get through this together. Download the MySwimPro app to access technique videos and dryland training plans!
I addressed this problem years ago in my book, WHALE TALK. It might require re-arranging some things in your workout room, and you’ll have to drill a couple of holes, but all that can be easily repaired when this craziness subsides.
Thanks for sharing!