Sunday, June 28, 2009

Summer Nationals: A look inside an athlete's head

Let's dip into the mind of an elite athlete who is about to compete at their biggest meet of the year or perhaps their life. What is this like mentally? What are they thinking? Are they stressed, nervous, excited, happy, unenthused (they better not be), etc. What's should you act or carry yourself in order to best support this athlete in their quest for success? I will focus this mostly on swimming but this generally applies to all elite and professional athletes across the board.

Imagine working all year on one project....Hmmm I take that back. Imagine working most of your life and basically all of your adult life up to this point on one project. Every year is a new task, a new challenge, a new goal. Your competitors vary over the years but the goal remains the be the best you can be (and no, I'm not talking about being in the Army). This job requires you to put your body and mind through extreme challenges daily. You often get scrutinized and second guessed which challenges your mental willpower. Sometimes there are periods when you think you cannot continue and almost think of stopping because the task seems so daunting and your performances have been so poor. Here's the real have only one shot to realize the win that go a best shot to make the pitch...a matter of seconds to whoo the big-shot who is going to potentially buy your product. BOOM. Now it's over. In the blink of an eye you either made your year of work a success or a failure. I understand this may sound a bit harsh and/or over the top...but trust me when I say this is the mentality of many elite athletes. If you wonder how and why they get to the top, the answer for many is that they are literally this hard on themselves in their task for achieving perfection and/or their goal. Now do you get a sense of why this is such an intense lifestyle/period of the year?

Realize that each athlete is different. Each will handle pressure, excitement, nerves, happiness, dissappointment etc. in different ways. In addition, they will have different mental approaches to their big meets in order to put them in the right frame of mind to help them achieve their goals.

So what can you do? For those of you who haven't been around swimming or athletics at a very elite level it is important to know what you can/should expect from the athletes in terms of communication, moods, patience etc...Expect nothing. Not that you will get zero communication from them nor that they will be in a in a certain frame of mind or impatient, but it is always better to expect nothing in these situations and let their actions dictate the situation. A very well known sports psychologist named Jim who has worked extensively with the USA Swimming National Team puts it very simply. I've heard him say many times that at big competitions athletes will close themselves off from anything or anyone they think could potentially bring any kind of negativity into their life. Remember, there is only one chance at this. This is it. Don't take it personally if an athlete doesn't want you around or is unable to communicate with you during or around the meet. For me personally it is like this...My gas tank is only so big. I have only so much I can give and at the meet there is no reserve for anyone else except my family, coaches, and me.

Here are some things not to do or say. (these are all things people have asked or told me over the years haha). Are you nervous? Are you ready? Are you going to make the team? Did you hear so and so is planning on going _____ fast? I had a dream last night that you were going to die in a plane crash soon. What is your strategy for the race? You look overweight. Your start looks terrible. Only one more week until the big meet.

Try to keep it light. Don't bring up the competition unless they bring it up. Ask what you can do to help them. I always think the Golden Rule is wrong...It shouldn't be "Treat others how you would want to be treated." Everyone is different. It should be, "Treat others how THEY want to be treated."

World Championship Trial Logistics

I often get asked about the selection process for making the Olympic team and the World Championship team. The process is the same for both teams. So here's what's about to go down in a week or so...and what I need to do to book my ticket to Roma!

World Championship Trials:
The format is prelims and finals. Unlike the Olympic Trials, Olympics and World Championships there are no semi-finals at the World Championship Trials. In order to qualify for the World Champs you need to swim in the A heat in finals which is comprised of one of the eight fastest times from the preliminaries that morning. Once you get into a final you need to either win or get second to automatically book your ticket. In the 100 and 200 freestyles they will take the top six swimmers in order to have enough swimmers for the 400 and 800 freestyle relays.

July 8: I will swim the preliminaries of the 200 freestyle in the morning. No matter what happens in this race I will scratch (take myself out of the race). I have a good 200 freestyle but at this meet I will be using it mainly as a tune-up race. Swimming the 200 will get a lot of my early meet jitters out of the way. I will get a feel for the pool and the surroundings of racing at this meet. Although it doesn't matter how I feel, this race will give me a bit of a temperature reading...I want to be running HOT baby! The rest of this day I will chill and get ready for my next race...the 50 free.

July 9: The 50 free. This is going to be a fun day. So here's how the day will tentatively go. I'll wake up pretty early (6:45am or so) and go to the pool and do a wake-up swim. The wake-up swim is short...only about ten minutes, but it makes sure I'm up and gets my muscles and body going more than they would if I had just stayed in bed. I take every race seriously but at big meets like this I always do a wake-up swim just to let my body and mind know that it's about to get real! I'll go back to the hotel and eat some breakfast. Not too much food because I like to race a little bit hungry and lean. It's better to be a hungry, ferocious monster than a full and gentle get the point. Before I know it I'll be back at the pool doing my main warm-up for the race. Boom...Race. After the race I'll warm-down, eat, try to take a nap, chill for a bit, eat a little something and go back to the pool for finals. Hit it! This is when the big boys get separated from the rest. The finals is the big show. This is what I train for and focus on all year. Essentially I have one chance to accomplish what I've worked an entire year to do. A perfect Eddie Reese quote for this situation is, "AT THIS LEVEL THERE IS ABSOLUTELY NO ROOM FOR ERROR."

July 10: The 100 Free. This will basically be the same type of schedule as July 9th.

Trust me when I say this will go by in a flash!

Friday, June 26, 2009

Hilarious Phone Jack

If you want to hear something really funny click on the link below and go to the bottom of the page...there is a phone jack there that you can play and listen to. Click on the play button and you will laugh. Trust me!

Phone Jack

Thursday, June 25, 2009

400 Free Relay Nominated for ESPY AWARD...GO VOTE!!!

It's official...Our 400 Free Relay from the Beijing Olympics has been nominated for an ESPY Award!!! We are in the category of 'Best Moment':) The contest is heavily based upon fan voting. Please show your support and go to the link below and vote for us. This only takes a couple minutes and trust me when I say Jason, Michael, Cullen and I will all greatly appreciate it! Thanks for all of the continued support:)


Sunday, June 21, 2009


Wow it has been way too long since I posted a blog. What have I been doing? Well...swimming, cooking a ton, my Dad was in town which was great, chilling, cooking etc.

For those of you who read my blogs before the meet last weekend and know about the results then you know I didn't go either of my goal times. Hmmm what happened? That's exactly what I thought. Is this difficult on my mind? Yes, at times it is. There are many things I think about when I don't do well or as well as I thought I would. It is difficult to not accomplish what I set out to do because a part of me, for a second, doubts me. I think there is no question the demon of doubt definitely comes into play sometimes for everyone. The question is, how do you handle this situation and make sure the doubt is gone. Hmmm....another good question. This is a harder one to answer explicitly. The answer to this will be different for everyone. In short, I handle doubt by remembering all the times in the past I've doubted and remember all the times I've proved yet again I had no reason to. I remember all the hard work and sacrifice I've put in and stay confident in myself. Many times I look at things like a test. I see last weekend as a test for me to beat. I will not let something like that ruin me or keep me from what I want...NO WAY. If it isn't already obvious....I've crushed that demon!

So here's what I was thinking and where I'm currently at...

Initially I was disappointed and annoyed with the fact that I didn't go as fast as I wanted to. Eddie and Kris always try to ingrain in my mind and other athletes minds that it is impossible to compare ourselves this year to where we were last year. Why you may ask? The answer is because I'm a different person this year than I was last year. This year I'm bigger, stronger, more mature, more experienced, more refined etc. These simple facts make it impossible to compare last year's Garrett to this year's Garrett. Last year I went faster in both the 50 and 100 at the Texas Senior Circuit meet. What does this mean? Probably nothing. The reality is I'm different. Eddie always says the way to get better is to train your body in a different and more rigorous way than we did the year before, let it adapt to that, give it rest, and get excited to bust a cap and swim fast (well the bust a cap is more my thing than Eddie's but you get the idea). I know we've done this. I'm excited about swimming fast. The truth is that the path this year is just a little different than it was last year....and different is ok.

It did take me a few days to get over that meet though. I walked away with these positives... I had some good racing and got a good feel for swimming at a faster pace once again. My coaches and I now have a better idea of where we are and what we need to do to get where we want to go. I won both races I swam in the finals which gives me confidence in knowing I can still get the job done when it comes down to it. One of my best friends who I swam with for a long time told me, "When it comes time to ball, you're always ready." It sounds a little cliche but it made me feel better...and it's true haha!

I've had some pretty decent practices this past week. I know things will continue to get better. My mind is on the upslope baby!!!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Senior Circuit Thoughts Take 2

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Texas Senior Circuit 50 Free Thoughts

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Pre-Meet Thoughts

I'm starting to get quite excited about the meet this weekend. My body feels better than it has in a while. I got stretched this morning and am getting a massage tomorrow morning before the meet, at the South Congress Athletic club! As I've already told you it is very important to set good goals going into every meet. This helps us assess where we are in our training and/or taper and what changes we may need to make before hopefully realizing our dream. I still have a bit over three weeks before the big show in Indy and know my body will feel significantly different then that it does now.

Several people have asked my why I'm not going to the big meet in Santa Clara. There are a few reasons why.
1. It is a long way to travel for a short meet.
2. I'd rather stay here and compete at my favorite pool ie Texas.
3. The competition that may be foregone by going to Santa Clara makes no difference to me because in my eyes I'm only competing against myself (you can't worry about what anyone else is doing. We need to swim our own races).
4. I'd rather make my own meals and stay true to my diet than go eat out all the time in California.

So here are my thoughts for this weekend:
1. I want to swim my own races right aka don't get caught up in what anyone else is doing. There is no point in racing if you don't race how you know you need to. I have certain things I think about during my races and certain strategies I have been working on. First and foremost I need to perfect those in order to be my best in Indy.
2. 50 Free. I would like to go at least 22.2. This isn't blazing fast by any means but will set me up to go muuucchh faster in three weeks.
3. 200 Free. This is a much harder race for me to judge for a couple reasons. First, it is much harder to do a good 200 when I'm tired...more so than a 50 or 100. Second, I still haven't completely figured out the 200. Sometimes I have really great 200's and don't really know where they came from aka my strategy was simply better but I'm not quite sure what I did haha.
4. 100 Free. I would like to go at least 48.7. The most important part of this race will be swimming it how I want and need to.

I realize I haven't told you any of my strategies in this blog. You don't get to know. That's between me and my coach:P

I'll update y'all during the meet.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Quick update:

I swam this morning. I feel decent in the water. My arms feel pretty choppy on the entry at the front of my stroke...this tells me I'm still tired (which is good for now in the season). They feel pretty good under the water on my pull. My legs feel ok too. I'm at a very good point for this part of the season. My body will be where I need it to be at the right time.

On a different note. I had a photographer over this afternoon to take pictures of some food I made for Austin Fit Magazine. I will be the feature story for the July issue. Look out for it, it will be good!

I have off until tomorrow afternoon! It was nice to get a little break from going to the pool and swimming, before I head into the meet this weekend at the UT pool. I'll post a blog in the next couple days talking about my thoughts about the meet and what I think I can go. This will be a good and final tune-up before the big World Championship Trials in Indy.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Sorry for having been a bad blogger lately. I know the point of Blogging is to give your readers something they want to hear...something that could be useful to them in some way. Generally I think I provide something interesting, comical and/or informative. To be honest I haven't blogged much recently because I don't really have much to say. Here's the few pieces I do have u might find decent.

I was walking downtown Austin today and witnessed some sort of drug deal go down. I was probably about 150 yards away and as I walked I couldn't help but watch what was going on. I'm a very inquisitive person and want to know everything...even about what these men were doing...which looked to be a drug deal. At what looked to be the conclusion of the deal I saw one of the guys turn his head and look straight at me. He then yelled, "Hey," and started to run in my direction. I must say I was a bit nervous and immediately began to walk a bit faster. It was the middle of the day so I figured this guy wasn't going to fight me or something, but who knows. As he approached me and got even closer I turned towards him and to my relief he stopped at another man who was at that point about twenty feet behind me. Phew.

On another note I made a huge pot of beef stock recently...about two gallons. My nutritionist wants me to drink about eight ounces a day so I get some additional amino acids in my diet which will help my muscles stay strong and healthy. I had a funny picture of me and the beef bones but I can't seem to find the cord for my camera...likely story. I'm not the most organized person.

Swimming is going well. I'm excited for the meet this weekend. I'm confident I will swim pretty fast!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

An Early Glimmer!

Today I had a great workout. During this part of the season, the beginning of taper, it is nice to have little glimmers of light. These glimmers can be anything from waking up in the morning and for once actually feeling somewhat refreshed, having a good set in practice when you originally felt really bad in warm-up, having a big lift in the weight-room, maybe your stroke feels really effortless, etc. Today we had a great set of 50s. The last round was kick. My bread and butter is my kick. My legs are what really provide me with most of my power through the water. Today my legs felt better than they have in a long while. My last 50 kick was 23.9 seconds on a kick-board. Not to be arrogant, but for those who don't know, that is really fast!

The legs are the biggest muscle group in the body and generally take the longest time to get recovered after long bouts of training. Today gave me a really bright glimmer of light going into this summer. I'm so happy right now. My confidence is on the rise big-time. I can still feel the warmth in my's wild!

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