How do I stop my mind playing tricks on me?
How do I settle my mind? It plays horrible tricks on me and I take ages to get into my swimming rhythm. It happens especially at big events.
Anne Louise Roberts
Your mind can either be amazing and get you through the toughest races or a real tricky devil that trips you up wherever possible.
Before a big event I would always mentally run through how I was going to feel on race day. For example, a week before your big event, when you’re feeling nice and relaxed at home, just close your eyes and imagine how you would like to feel on the morning of the event.
If you start to feel nervous take a few deep breaths, ensuring that the exhalation is longer than inhalation as this naturally helps to calm nerves and reduce the stress hormone. Do this each day leading up to the swim, and on race day you will find yourself on relaxed autopilot.
To help hit your stroke rhythm, find a song which is the same tempo. Unfortunately, my go-to song was Good King Wenceslas, but I only knew the first verse – on a 10km swim it got quite tedious! It did, however, ensure I swam at the stroke rate I wanted and at a good pace.
“Swimming was my whole life for over 20 years. I poured every ounce of enthusiasm into it. I am so fortunate to have found these new outlets for that enthusiasm.”
Cassie Patten won bronze in the first ever Olympic 10km marathon swim, in the Beijing 2008 Olympics.
Cassie now coaches and is a frequent commentator at open water events.