I’m not someone who likes to live in the past, but the purpose of this is to keep swimmers from making the same regrettable mistakes as this swammer. Some may seem simple and some more complex, but each of them just as easily done as the rest. Hope you enjoyed that accidental rhyming sentence as much as I did. Poetry aside, let’s get into it.
- Not Taking Nutrition Seriously
- To say I didn’t eat well when I was swimming might be the understatement of the century. I ate horribly. You can reach out to any of my teammates during my time at ASU and I’d bet they’d all give you the same answer. Part of my downfall here was my incredibly strong stomach that for some reason could smash a large order of fast food on the way to a threshold workout and be just fine. The other part was just me eating like a literal dumpster every day because dumpster food tastes good. Sue me.
- Advice: Don’t eat at raising canes 4-5 times a week, pizza cookies every night, and Culver's custard for breakfast and expect to be in peak physical condition. You’re swimming 4 hours/day and in the weight room three times a week so you’ll look good, but feeling good is a different story. *dips chicken tender in ice cream*
2) Not Completely Selling Out In My Tapered Races
- I was always a workhorse in practice which would yield some pretty solid cardio potential throughout the season and a nice taper, but for some reason, I just couldn’t get myself to completely sell out when taper time came. I was a back half swimmer for the majority of my career (all of it) and looking back I definitely wish I had at least tested the waters (pun intended) and laid it all on the line in one of my tapered 400/200IMs.
- Advice: Train hard, go out even harder, and then from there on it’s a test of will. You never know…you might surprise yourself.
3) Not Stretching More
- I had solid ankle flexibility and shoulder flexibility, but there was never a point in my career where I could comfortably touch my toes. As an elite athlete that’s pretty terrible and when you’re trying to do every little thing you can to make yourself .1 or .01 better than you were yesterday or last year, this was an easy one.
- Advice: Stretching doesn’t take more than 15-20 minutes/day and can be done pretty much anywhere. The pool deck, yep. At home, yep. In class before you take a midterm, yep. At the cafeteria, yep. In the GA section at a concert since you’re a broke college kid and can’t pay for the nicer seats yet, stretch it up. Not doing it is just laziness. Do you hear that 6-22-year-old Kyle? You were lazy. Boom roasted.
4) Not Taking Long Course More Seriously
- This one was taught to admit. Not because I was embarrassed to tell people, but because I really didn't like long course and still don’t. You’re probably a bit confused as to why this might be a regret then, eh? Swimming is internationally a long course sport, team qualifications are long course, and so is trials. Four sentences later, I wish I had given making trials a bit more of a serious attempt when I was still competing. Guess I still could, hmm.
- Advice: Train long course even if you don’t like it as much as short course. It’ll make you better at the sport and keep you in shape for short course even if you’re not going after a trials cut.
5) Not Soaking It All In More
- Swimming was hands down the best time of my life and I’ll always cherish the four years I spent at ASU surrounded by my Sun Devil family. Chasing personal goals with the support and vocal chord shredding cheering of your teammates is something that won’t last a lifetime so enjoy it while it lasts and cheer a little louder for your teammates knowing that it won’t last forever for them either.
- Advice: Next time you get on the block, next time you jump in the pool for practice, or go a best time take a second to think about where you're at, who you’re surrounded by, and how awesome this sport and surrounding culture actually is. That run on sentence you just read just further solidifies the fact that it’s hard to put into words how impactful your years in the sport will be on you for years to come.
Suit up, go out fast, stretch every day, cheer loud, and no matter what don’t eat fast food right before every workout for four years straight. It’ll catch up to you about four days after you stop swimming.