Preparation will help you have a great swim meet.
Whether its your first or 31st swim meet, being organized and prepared can help ensure everything goes smoothly on the day of your event. After weeks, months or even years of training, it would be a shame to let some small detail derail your chances of putting in your best swim. Avoid having a bad meet by planning ahead and making sure you are as well prepared as you can possibly be.
Pack Your Bag In Advance
Make a list of everything you need to take to your swim meet and pack it well in advance -- the night before, for example. Tick off the items as you put them in your bag so you know you have them. Make sure you have your goggles, swimsuit, swim cap, warm-up suit, towel, shampoo, snacks, robe, deck shoes, after-swim clothes and any other essential equipment. Consider taking spares of anything that might break such as your goggles.
Plan Your Route and Arrive Early
If you are traveling to the swim meet on your own rather than with your team, make sure you know exactly where you are going and set off in plenty of time so you arrive early. Build in a little extra time to allow for unplanned delays, such as car troubles or heavy traffic. A stress-free journey will ensure you arrive at the meet feeling fresh and relaxed, whereas a hurried journey can rob you of essential energy. Once you have arrived, check in at the registration desk, find out when you are swimming and let your coach know you have arrived safely.
Eat a well-balanced meal a few hours before you are due to swim. Because of nerves, you may not feel very hungry, but do your best to eat some high-energy carbohydrate foods such as rice, pasta, potatoes or bread to ensure you are fully fueled for your races. Drink plenty of water, little and often, to ensure you are well hydrated, and consider using a sports energy drink to keep your fuel levels topped up throughout the day. Do not try any new foods or drinks on race day as they may upset your stomach. Instead, stick with foods and drinks you know you tolerate well.
Unless there is a specific warm-up pool available, you will probably have a designated time to warm up before your races. Make sure you arrive on time for your warm-up and spend the allocated time getting your body ready for your race. Make sure you practice your starts and turns as well as the stroke you will be swimming. Be careful not to warm up too hard and leave all your energy in the warm-up pool. Once you are warm, put on your robe or sweatsuit and stay loose and relaxed by performing appropriate dynamic stretches and mobility exercises as directed by your coach.
Prior to your event, spend time relaxing and picturing yourself performing well. Imagine everything from walking out to the poolside, taking off your sweatsuit, mounting the blocks, your start, the race itself and finishing. Doing this helps act as a sort of practice so that when the time comes to do it all for real, it already feels familiar. Combined with deep, diaphragmatic breathing and an appropriate warm-up, these mental rehearsals should ensure you climb on to the starting blocks feeling ready to swim at your best.