Recently I got caught up in a discussion with a swimmer friend about the future of technology. Somehow we ended up comparing the progress in technology to the progress in swimming and what seemed to be totally swimming unrelated in the beginning of course ended up being a heated swimming discussion between the two of us. What follows is a sum up of my personal opinion and our ramblings that started with the simple question and answer below and went on for far too long.
Question: “What’s the future of swimming?”
Answer: “Nobody knows!”
We know there are certain things that work no matter if you’re a pool or open water athlete, no matter if you swim sprints, middle-distance or distance events…all the greats of the past and the present have figured out those little details that work. But still a lot of athletes and especially coaches wonder what will the future bring to the sport of swimming. How are things going to change and what might be something only few are trying today that will be the next big thing to do to make your athletes fast in the future? Well, the answer is pretty simple – nobody knows!
Even outside of the swimming world everyone thought Cesar Cielo is going to be the man to beat in the sprint freestyles at the World Championships in Shanghai. And don’t get me wrong, he has established himself as the premier sprinter in the world right now and at least in the 50 free made it clear that he will be the one to watch come London next year. But didn’t we all think this is going to be an easy one for Cesar? He’s just so much ahead of everyone else! Nobody even thought that anyone will be able to touch him in the 50 and 100 freestyle. He wasn’t as dominant in the 50 free, although still impressive but “struggled” in the 100 free. There was this guy from Australia, James Magnussen, who gave the Aussie their first win in the 100 free at Worlds in a long time and just blew everyone else away (and not just once).
So now all the sudden everyone is looking at James Magnussen wondering what he’s done differently to be so much better than anyone else over two laps in as short as 47 seconds. If you ask him, he probably wouldn’t know and tell you that he just worked extremely hard and everything just clicked on the right day at the right time. I even heard he was feeling sick a couple days before his race. So maybe what we’ve seen from James wasn’t even his best or he just got the right amount of rest! Does that scar you? Will it make you change, experiment more with your training and the tools you use or will you stick with what you know works – keep working hard and hope for the best? (watch this recent interview with James Magnussen on the Morning Swim Show)
Another example is a fellow Swiss swimmer, Swann Oberson, newly crowned 10k Open Water World Champion. Although she had finished 6th at the 10k event in Beijing and consistently placed in the top 10 in the Open Water events throughout the last year, she wasn’t a title contender to win the World Championships race in Shanghai. We all know that the water was extremely warm and made some athletes decide to pull out of the longer 25k race later in the week. Here’s something you probably didn’t know. Swann just completed her 1st Open Water race in cold water at the test event in London…yes, she’s an amazing hard working and enduring athlete but before that swim never completed a race in cold water. Does this fact make her competitors feeling more comfortable going into the 10k race in London? Will Swann adapt her training and look for cold places to train for the Olympics next year?
Let me tell you that there are too many factors you can’t influence on your quest to greatness and hard work always pays off in some way or another (unfortunately not always in the way we are hoping for). But let me also tell you that part of being the best you can, involves experimenting with new ways to become faster, get stronger and reach higher. You won’t know if something can help you, unless you try! If it doesn’t work let go of it and move on. I recently read a quote by Texas coach Eddie Reese that said: “Burnout happens when an athlete stops progressing and getting faster.”
I thought this was a really interesting quote and I couldn’t agree more. Here’s one thing that is working now and will be working in the future. The more you can relax, enjoy yourself and have fun racing, the better your results will be! Did you ever try to start workout with a smile on your face? You would be surprised how a simple smile can affect the group dynamic during a hard workout.
Please leave a comment a let us know what you think the future holds for swimming.