Calm Your Race Day Jitters

On your marks….get set….GOOOOOO!!!

Once you hear the starter say those words followed by the sound of the buzzer, there is no turning back….you are now in the driver’s seat.

But what gets you ready for that moment to race?

For everyone it is different- Do you keep to yourself and visualize, jam out to music or just chat and goof around with those around you?

For me, it’s a little bit of all.  As I was getting ready to perform at the biggest events of my career-The 1996 and 2000 Olympic Games, I found a simple solution to my race preparation.

For you, as you figure out what your race day strategy is, remember this- the only way you get good at it, is to practice it at every meet and for every race. Then when you get up to race on the BIG stage, it will just happen automatically. It is part of your training and preparation. Prepare to win and you will.

But here are a few helpful tips to get you started- ones that I use to this day, as I dive back into the world of competitive swimming.

Control what you can within the environment- From your warm up, to getting you’re race suit on and give yourself plenty of time to speak with your coach.

As a distance swimmer, I was on the first bus to the pool for warm up. My warm up was more like a mini practice just to get the blood flowing, the stroke rate right and the heart pumping.  And then I hated being rushed…having to squeeze myself into that racing suit, yikes! I always wanted to feel it was my time clock, not that of the meet.

Music- on the playlist: The A-Team theme song, Right Now by Van Halen, Thunderstruck by AC/DC and Welcome to the Jungle by Guns -N-Roses. Those are my four songs that put me right where I need to be…

Within my power jam session, this is my moment to visualize the race. In my head, it goes the way I want it to go. Now it’s your time, leave NO chance for error on your part….a well thought out race is yours to win!!

As I worked to find my “perfect” sink to be race ready, I struggled with one thing- the tendency to over think it-BAD!!

My best memory on this- Looking into the stands at the 2000 Olympic Trials in Indianapolis and seeing my Dad (Keith Bennett) dancing as they were parading the top 8 finalist out for the 400 Free….I was in the zone, but too deep and my dad knew it…

He did everything to he could to get my attention and when I saw him, I burst out into a laugh. It was just what was needed- as if I could hear him say, “Brooke, you got this, now get out there and enjoy what you love to do…Race!!”

Expect the unexpected- A delay in the meet, a cap or suit rip or your goggles break. You have to learn to be prepared for EVERYTHING, always have extras in your bag.

But remember this-we do what we do because we enjoy it. The training is for the racing. The race is for our competitive juice to come alive-BE THE BEAST!!!

-Brooke Bennett

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