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Getting comfortable with diving in head first.

Why your brain is your strongest asset.

Now that summer is in full swing, swim season is officially here. One thing professional swimmers know is the importance of warming up before they compete. It gets the blood flowing and helps prevent injury. And when mental training is incorporated, the brain sends a signal telling the body it’s time to get into the Green Zone, boosting confidence and resilience in the process.

If you’re ready to test the waters of mental training, here are three tips to maximize your state of flow, both in and out of the pool.

Mind your stress triggers.

Preempting potential sources of stress is the basis of a solid mental game and can be addressed before, during, and after you hit the starting blocks.

  • Before: Keep your levels of distress low and your positive energy high. Try this: Visualize how good you want to feel at the end of your heat. Picture yourself making strong strokes with ease.

  • During: Literally shake off setbacks if you get triggered. Try this: Reassure yourself that mistakes happen, and then do some jumping jacks or dance your way back into the Green Zone.

  • After: Celebrate the wins—even if you lose. Try this: Look forward to a post-meet reward. Treating yourself will help remind you that one performance or meet does not define you.

Make a “Get out of the Red Zone” Playlist

Have you ever heard a song from years past that brings you right back to the first time you listened to it? Music can have a powerful impact on our emotions. After all, there’s a reason Michael Phelps wore his headphones before competing. Create multiple playlists with songs that lift you up or chill you out, helping to prepare you for anything.

Decompress Intentionally

In times of overwhelm, explore healthy, helpful, and creative ways to redirect your energy.

Every individual is different, so find what works best for you.

  • Take a walk to engage all of your senses. Pop in your earbuds, breathe in the fresh air, and feel the sun on your face. 

  • Zone out to get into the zone—watching a show, playing a game, or calling a friend are quick ways to distract yourself from stress.

  • A warm shower works wonders when you’re feeling overwhelmed, but if you don’t have time or access, try envisioning the feeling instead. You may be surprised at just how calming it can be!

A Special Note to Parents:

Help strengthen your athlete’s mental game by showing your support. Although you might not always receive an outward acknowledgment, consistency is always considered a win. 

  • Help develop a pre-game routine. Your child might not know what they need before the start of a competition, but you can set the tone by encouraging hydration and a protein boost, stretching with them, or playing songs to motivate (or calm!) them.

  • Show up. Remind your child that you are there for them, win or lose. The easiest way to do this is simply to attend their games and meets. A supportive face in the crowd will often mean more than you know.

  • Be a sounding board. Listen more than talk. Read your child’s body language. Ask them if they want to discuss what went well or what could be improved on.

Pregame jitters are normal, but when mental preparation is an essential part of your warm-up (and cool-down!), you’ll start lapping the competition before you even touch the water.

Summer is the perfect time for cross-training. Make strengthening your mental game a big part of it at

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