First Races are something wonderful to behold. It is all new; a learning experience that only makes one better and stronger. In the first race, there is the guarantee of a person best!
I was able to cheer on my son, Caleb as he experienced his first swim meet this weekend. It was truly a wonderful sight. He loved the whole experience and he performed very well. I was extremely proud of him; he faced the new challenge with a positive attitude, put his best effort forward and had fun doing it!
Dealing with Pre-Race Jitters
Pre-race jitters are inevitable. The best strategy is to accept that it is normal to be nervous and to realize that a bit of nervousness enhances performance. Being anxious gets the adrenaline flowing and sharpens one’s intensity to perform one’s best.
Caleb was nervous, however he dealt with it very well. He focused on being organized; making sure he had all his gear and nutrition ready for the race ahead of time. I helped him figure out when to eat and to focus on the things he could control before the race. His coaches, Christine and Sasha from West Park Aquatics, had Caleb and his team-mates do a pre-race warm up and they were physically prepared.
Learning from the First Race
Caleb had no previous race times to place him in a heat, which meant that he and all the other newbie competitors were the very swimmers to compete in each event. Caleb was in the first heat of the first event, the 50 meter Free. Without having watched any other swimmers race, Caleb and the other competitors, awkwardly climbed up onto the blocks hoping to be ready for this, their first race.
“Ready” and the horn sounded!
All the swimmers stood on the blocks, looked at each other shocked that the starting horn had already gone off and then decided that it was time to start their race. They had not anticipated such a quick start and they lost what felt like seconds on the starting blocks. But then they were off….
Caleb swam well and finished first in his heat with a time of 30:98. Sure, he lost time, as he is only learning what to do in a race; still a PB and a great race!
The next event Caleb competed in, the 200 meter Free; he was quick off the block, with no delay! The learning curve is quick and their is no other way to learn, but to jump into a race. Trial by fire. Caleb’s 200m Free was completed in a time of 1:21:80 and he looked confident racing that second event.
Caleb’s final event of the day, the 50 meter Back, was another learning experience. Caleb is just learning how to do the backstroke start and wall turns; he gave it his best shot and realized he has improvements to make. He did well for a beginner, with a time of 36:00 and looked very strong as he swam. He will only improve with practicing his starts and walls.
Striving for More
The first swim meet made Caleb more excited for swimming. He left the swim competition so happy and excited and begging for more opportunities to race. I know this experience will make Caleb swim harder in future practices and focus on all those little details that are easy to ignore, such as perfecting the entry dive and executing better flip turns. Races approached well, with the perspective of using it as a learning and growth experience will only improve future training and competing. Caleb’s coaches do an excellent job of preparing him to race hard and have fun while doing it.
It was a pleasure to watch my son at his first swim meet. I was excited all week leading up to this event, and rightfully so, as it was incredible to watch Caleb give his best effort and have the time of his life swimming his heart out!