Swimnetwork.com Special: What Next?

By Dr. Chris Colburn

You've made it through Long Course Nationals (or not), and it's time to take a break, look back and look forward. This week, we'll look at what you can do to get ready for next season, whether that season starts next week or next year.

Take a Break

Even if you only swam one or two days at the Big Splash, you're likely ready for a break. If you swam four or five days at the meet, you've probably slept in for a few days already. Everyone can benefit from even a short break at the end of a competitive season. A hiatus from the pool gives both mind and body a chance to rejuvenate, to come back to the pool ready to jump into the next season. Many swimmers ask how long a break they should take. I typically give the same advice to all my swimmers: when you're ready to get back in the pool, you'll know. Some swimmers like to take a day, while others might stay away for a couple of months. Either way, the best time to return is when your mind and body tell you. I took off five days after Nationals, while some of my swimmers were back at it after two. If you're not willing to trust yourself on this, take a week off and see how you feel. The rest will do you some good.

Assess Your Progress

Maybe you did as well or better than you dreamed at the Big Meet. Did you meet your goals? If not, did you reach an intermediate milestone? It's important to look back on the meet and see what went well and what didn't. Hopefully, you'll be able to reflect on the conditions that contributed to your successes so you can repeat those in the future. It's equally important to analyze where you may not have performed as well as you had hoped. Careful attention to the less-than-stellar swims can also help you assess what worked last season. Now is the time for some introspection on the details of your training. Was your taper too long or too short? Did you do enough stroke, drills or sprinting? Regardless of your assessment, some careful reflection on all your swims will show you what you can work on next.

What You Can Work On, or Change is Good

Maybe you really hit your starts. Perhaps your walls need a little work. Possibly, that last 50 could have felt better with some more legs. Now is the time to decide what to work on for the coming season. Some swimmers may not desire many changes, while others will want to change their training to focus on their observations from the meet. In any case, the beginning of the season is the best time to implement changes, as it gives you time to incorporate them into your training long before you return to racing. Nevertheless, work with your coach (if you have one) to make the changes you need to reach the next level of your swimming journey.

Chris Colburn (aka DrCoachChris) is the head coach of Academy Bullets Masters in Aurora, Ill., and the Chair of the U.S. Masters Swimming Coaches Committee. He believes that a break between seasons is a good thing. Break time is a great opportunity to set goals and make positive changes for the coming year.

For more of Chris’ work and for more swimming, go to Swimnetwork.com.

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