How You Should Approach Getting Back in the Pool sports-masters May 23, 2020 Featured, Health, Swimming 538 A perspective shift might be needed as you transition back to swimming regularly By Scott Bay It seems like with every news report, things are getting worse. That constant messaging makes it hard to see what lies ahead—only what’s directly in front of us. It’s easy to get consumed by it. There are constant reminders of closed businesses, people wearing masks, closed parks, closed pools, and the list goes on. But you can choose a different view, it just requires a little shift in thinking. It’s a good idea right now to think about how you’re going to emerge from this. In short, what’s your crisis exit strategy? Regain Control Easier said than done. For swimmers, it requires a new focus. You get to decide what that will be. Because many swimmers have been out of the pool for quite a while, it’s like starting with a clean slate. There’s no shortage of articles on goal setting so this isn’t that but rather a reminder of how the process is going to go and what to expect when you do get in the pool with a goal or are looking to set one. Experience – There’s a saying in the Caribbean: “Cat luck ain’t dog luck.” Everyone has had different experiences with lockdown and stay-at-home orders. When you get back to the pool, someone who you used to be faster or fitter than may be a little ahead of you because your journeys weren’t the same. Embrace that. It means you will be faster going down the path but starting a little behind. Faster improvement is satisfying. Fitness – There’s a difference between being in shape and being in swimming shape. Even if you were very disciplined with your workout routine through this crisis, the kinetic chain of movements for swimming isn’t something that can be duplicated on land. Be patient with yourself. It all comes back. Time – For obvious reasons, swimmers are often obsessed with time. It will take time to come back from an extended break, so don’t expect to pick up where you left off. If you were doing 100s on 1:30 in March but struggle now, it’s OK. Ignore the clock and swim how you feel at first. The New – Right now is the perfect time. Make some changes to your swimming: a new stroke or event, a new technique. You’re already starting over in a sense, so why not make the leap? You have nothing to lose because the performance expectations are out the window for the time being. Start Slow – The best way to avoid hurting yourself physically or mentally is to NOT jump back in the pool and think you can pick up where you left off. Same is true for injuries and any other life interruptions to the training or workout schedule. Refocus Transitions are hard. It was bad enough to wake up one day to the pool being closed, and now you’re having to start over. Rather than looking at it from a standpoint of how long it will take to get back to where you were, shift your perspective to how much farther can you go from where you were. At that point the possibilities are boundless. About the author: Scott Bay is a USMS-certified Masters coach and an ASCA Level 5 coach and has been actively coaching and teaching swimming since 1986 to swimmers of all ages. The Masters swimmers he currently coaches include national champions, All Americans, and world record holders, who have swum to more than 300 Top 10 swims and 30 world records in just the past 5 years. Throughout his career Bay has taught thousands how to swim or how to swim better. He’s also written numerous articles on technique and coaching and contributed to USMS’s coach certification curriculum. Bay presents at clinics across the country and has written an instructional book, “Swimming Steps to Success.” (Human Kinetics, 2015). Bay is the past chair of the USMS Coaches Committee, and the Head Coach of YCF Masters.