There often comes a day in a swimmer's life when he or she thinks that they may need a more advanced training group. The cycle of wanting to get better and compete with individuals who are stronger and faster is normal, but how do you know if it's really time?
In an article on USA Swimming's official website, former collegiate-level swimmer Mike Gustafson offered the following tips for athletes who want to move to the next level:
- Prove that you can do the work - Many young swimmers make the mistake of thinking that since they can swim slightly better than their peers, or wear a high-quality racing swimsuit, that's enough to qualify to be in a faster group. You should show your coach that you can consistently exceed his or her expectations during practices.
- Trust your coach – If your coach says that you're not ready to move up, trust their judgment and try not to take their decision as a personal slight. Your trainer knows more about the next competitive level than you do and may feel that your skills – though improved – are not up to par with swimmers in a more advanced group.
- Understand the importance of mental strength – If you do have the opportunity to move up to a more skilled swimming group, you must be prepared for possible disappointments. Your fellow swimmers may be significantly faster than you, but you can't allow that to upset you. Instead, use that for inspiration to work harder during practices.
No matter what happens, remember to keep swimming. With time and practice, you'll be more successful than you could have expected.