Fight…can be brutal, casual, abusive, exciting, debates, physical, empowering, mental, determination, childish, or just a fight.
I have heard many and experienced all of these types; I am sure I forgot some or I have not yet had the pleasure of experiencing them…
A fight can be in many different ways. It does not just mean a physical altercation with another physical body. I have experienced the brutal fight, but this one I was the controller behind the brutality. I know this makes it sound like I did something stupid but to me it was when I would race. In a 50 Freestyle it is a fight to win. In other races you can set your own goal and race your own race, but in a 50…you have to fight back against the other swimmers and hit the wall before them. So, if you want to be the winner you have to do many things, all at once perfectly, without screw up. It is the hardest race for most athletes and only the best get to race it in the big leagues.
So to me the brutal part in the fight to the wall was lack of oxygen. You must hold your breath, while sprinting, while fighting, while losing consciousness, until you hit the wall. And the controller or boss of your lack of oxygen is yourself. You have to want “it” more than air. You have to want to see black spots in your vision and win before you can have that healthy breath of oxygen.
I remember my coach always telling me to stop breathing. I thought that was kind of funny, because that’s something you say when you are extremely mad and you want the person to drop dead. But as a swimmer you hear this all the time. It is a natural thing to hear. My response every time was, “I know, I know…” I am sure my coaches were annoyed at me at some points of my career, but I am also sure they were excited when I swam. Because swimming was my fight. It was what drove me to wake up every day. It made me want to be an athlete. It has made me fight for want I want in life.
But it has also made me a passionate coach. This year I get to coach the varsity team; everything is faster, quicker and more intense. Not as intense as when I swam but way higher than JV. But, I can get a little too invested in my athletes lives. Some of them are swimming to stay in shape for polo season. Some are staying in shape for the summer. Some girls just want a good tan for that beach day. Some swimmers like swimming as a fun sport, but don’t have the drive. But I do have a handful that personally told me they want to be the best they can be, and they will work hard to be the best.
So, to tie in the breath control thing…we had a swim meet yesterday and I put all of them in the 200 Freestyle Relay so they could all do a 50. But also, relays have so much more pressure to them; they were one of my favorite parts of the sport. Because if you messed up your own individual race it was just “your” bad. But if you messed up on a relay or went to slow you lost if for yourself and three of your other teammates.
But on Wednesday, before the meet, we worked on breath control, I gave them an easy set, however the catch was that they could only take two breaths. Some of them they looked at me like I was crazy or it was an impossible task. You should only be taking 1-3 breaths in a 50. I always took 1 so 3 is giving them a buffer. I would say on average that 15 of my 22 athletes take on average 8 breaths in their 50…sometimes more like 11. So to some of them it seemed impossible. But I wanted to challenge that handful of people who like swimming but have never been challenged…they thought I was crazy, but they still attempted it…
They found that when you don’t breathe you push yourself harder to make it to that wall before you take that extra breath you don’t really need. If you put your head down and let your limbs pull your body to the finish the race will be over before you know it. As of right now, for them, it is only a 23-25 sec race. You only have this much time or less to be perfect. So if you take one factor out, breathing, then there is less to worry about. One less thing to have in your mind as you race and fight for the finish makes it that much easier to succeed. The fight is a fight to the finish…