Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Prelims and Finals Swims

Every so often we are presented with the tremendous opportunity to swim in a meet that has prelims and finals sessions. These meets are structured so as to present the fastest 8, or 16, or 24 swimmers from the morning or afternoon prelims sessions with another chance to swim again at finals in the evening. The number of swimmers advancing to finals in this fashion depends on the meet, their age group, and sometimes the events themselves. Some meets offer finals for all age groups, except for the 10 and unders. Some meets offer one heat of finals for 11 and 12 swimmers, but two heats of finals for 13 and older swimmers. Distance events are usually swum just one time, and sometimes the 11-12 200 fly, 200 back, and 200 breast are Timed Finals also.


These types of meets provide a valuable learning experience for our swimmers and encourage them to swim at a high level of competition. These types of meets are valuable tools to prepare our swimmers for their end-of-season Championships. Either they get a taste of swimming finals, or get a better appreciation of what it takes to qualify for finals next time.


Swimming the same event twice in one day is quite a challenge; making finals in two events doubly so. And you can imagine qualifying for three. Yet we don’t want to wait until our biggest meet to face this challenge. The more experience you can get trying to qualify for finals, and swimming finals, the more confidence you will have, the faster you will swim, the stronger you will be.


A swimmer should enter a prelim race with the goal of making finals. To expect anything less would be to sell yourself short. To expect not to make finals would be self-limiting.


As a swimmer develops and reaches this level of competition, we would like you to keep the following information in mind.


What is Involved? Be prepared! Clear your calendar for the entire weekend. When participating in prelims/finals meets, just expect to be there all day. Ideally, we would like our swimmers to go home to rest and refuel between prelims and finals. Swimmers need to be back in time for warm-ups in order to prepare for their final race(s). Please plan accordingly to assure a successful swimming experience for your athlete.

Atmosphere: The atmosphere at prelims is very different than during finals. The fastest swimmers have a hard time swimming best times during prelims especially knowing that finals will take place only a few hours after their initial, qualifying race. The goal is to swim fast enough to make finals. However, in the history of the FISH, we have had swimmers swim best times during prelims and they were totally surprised when they realized, they had just secured a spot in the A Final.

Pressure: After a long day of swimming the athletes return one more time to the pool for the final races, the fastest races. Who will touch the wall first? Though the pressure it tense, athletes handle it better when participating in these types of meets more frequently. Therefore, when a swimmer qualifies, participation is a must. In addition, the team spirit among the athletes can alleviate some of the pressure. Teammates cheer each other on and the FISH spirit takes on a life of its own.

Reaching Goal Times: Prelims/finals meets create an environment for our swimmers to reach their goal times in December. Representing your team in a final race, scoring points for your team, and getting that time you worked so hard for, is all part of the learning experience.

Friday, June 3, 2011


By Lisa Liston

Lynchburg YMCA Swim Team

Nutrition is important ALL THE TIME to keep the tank full for athletic training and performance. Athletes need to EAT TO TRAIN, not train so they can eat. In general, the athlete’s diet should be composed of 60% carbohydrates, 15% protein, and 25% fat. Carbohydrates are necessary as the dominant fuel in moderate and high intensity activities. Carbohydrates provide the energy to keep your engine running through those long practices and intense races! Protein is not an energy source, but it is important because it builds and repairs muscles, produces hormones, supports the immune system, and replaces red blood cells. Fat plays a critical role in the overall functioning of the body; it aids in digestion and energy metabolism, helps maintain body temperature, and plays a part in regulating hormone production.

In order to maintain optimal training and performance energy levels, it is important that athletes eat early and often! Athletes should have a carbohydrate snack before morning workouts -- even if a small amount. (While some don’t like to eat early in the morning, you can train your body to begin accepting food.) You should never go 3 or 4 hours without a snack during the day. It is better for swimmers to eat 6-8 times a day rather than just three meals a day. Athletes MUST have a carbohydrate snack immediately after practice. For proper muscle repair to begin, you have about a 30 minutes window to get some food in after practice. Within 1-2 hours of practice, swimmers should have a full meal. Without adequate fuel, swimmers will become fatigued and are more prone to injury as they are not helping their muscles recover.
Some excellent choices for your post-workout recovery snack might include chocolate milk, power bars, yogurt, bagels with peanut butter, a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.   The more you weigh, the larger your snack should be.  For instance if you weigh 120 pounds, 1.5 power bars may be sufficient, but if you weigh 175, then you might need 1 cup of chocolate milk and a bagel with peanut butter.
Not only is getting adequate food important during regular training, it is also critical during meets to maintain peak performance. After racing, swimmers need to replenish fluids and eat a small snack. Sometimes a swimmer won’t have quite enough time to warm down after a race and eating some food to help the recovery process along is just plain smart.  Stuck at a summer league meet with no warm down at all? Keep moving around and eat a few peanut butter crackers before your next race!
Check out USA Swimming’s nutrition tracker on the web to be sure you’re getting enough! As we head outdoors into the 50 meter pool in just a few days, training demands will become greater and swimmers are likely to need more calories to sustain successful training.