The difference between being a champion and an also ran

As much as I hate to bore you with another swimming story, I am going to bore you with another swimming story.

Water is ten times the density of air, so to move through the water with any efficiency lots of little things matter. Here is what I have to think about in the average 50 yard swim. Push off the wall, get into as tight a streamline as possible, arms extended, hands on top of one another, head down, legs tight and toes pointed, 3 dolphin kicks under water then start kicking to the surface. I start my stroke with my right arm so I have to focus on keeping my elbow high just under the surface and pull with my forearm towards the back of my body. I make sure my fingers are spread just far enough to get maximum resistance through the stroke and keep my hand pointed to the bottom of the pool all the way through the stroke. I have to remember to keep my left arm fully extended and out as far ahead of my body as possible. As I finish the first stroke, I turn my head to breathe making sure that I only expose one goggle out of the water, and one goggle underneath. My head has to be neutral neither too high or too low. As my right arm goes forward, I make sure to keep a high elbow but relax my forearm and hand as I prepare for it to enter the water about 6 inches ahead of me at just the right angle for minimum resistance, I can tell if I have done it correctly if I don’t see many air bubbles. My right hand enters the water and I extend it out as far ahead of me as I can and then start the same stroke process with my left hand, oh and make sure through all this that I keep a six beat kick throughout. As I come to the wall for my flip turn, I have to judge my speed so as to start the turn at just the right time, too late and my heels will hit the pool deck, too soon and I risk missing the wall altogether. As I start, I have to make sure both arms are behind me at my sides, palms facing up, do a somersault, push off the wall on my back, get into a tight streamline, then do three dolphin kicks while rotating on my stomach. I need to make sure I come off the wall at the right depth, too high, and I run into my own wake turbulence, too deep and I have to struggle to get to the surface, then start swimming all the way back to the start.

That is a lot of stuff to think about, but every one of those things done correctly helps you, and every one done poorly slows you down. So you practice, each step separately, then all together, perfect practice, perfect swimming, perfect practice, perfect swimming. Did you know that in the average Olympic 50 meter swimming final, the difference between the first finisher and the eighth finisher is usually less than the distance from your elbow to your fingertips?

Your jobs are like the 50 yard swim I just described, a hundred small things that all have to be done, and all have to be done right. The difference between being a champion and an also ran is doing all the steps properly versus only part of them properly. Our success depends on being you being a champion, so you decide.


Merry Christmas to you all.


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