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Staying Afloat

5 June 2017

Staying Afloat

It's not easy juggling swimming commitments with life away from the water. For many young swimmers achieving a balance between training and study can be the most difficult weekly challenge they face. We caught up with Olympic swimmer and Swimming Victoria's Sports Development, Athlete and Coach Liaison Linley Frame to offer her advice on how to manage the unmanageable! With her swimming background, having won gold at the 1991 FINA World Championships in the 100 metres breaststroke and represented Australia at the 1992 Olympic Games, Linley knows a thing or two about keeping balanced.

Time management

Time management and organisation are crucial to help you manage your stress levels when it comes to getting school work done. Swimming Victoria has a weekly and yearly planner on our website (click here) to help you get your training and study times organised. Tackle assignments as soon as possible once they are received, so that when you are training you can concentrate fully on your swimming knowing that your study is planned and under control. In your latter school years it is a good idea to meet with your coach and teachers to plan the sessions you will attend. This will assist you in balancing your academic and swimming worlds by communicating with the key people!

Early morning advice

Athletes need sleep and that means planning to get adequate rest each day. It is best to go to bed at the same time each night to get into a good routine. If you are at school you may need to start your homework at lunchtime so you are not up late to finish it. Elite athletes need 8 - 10 hours of sleep, adolescents need 10 hours. Sleep is needed for recovery from swimming, growing and for brain function. A few late nights in a row really add up and will affect your performance in the pool and your ability to concentrate. A nap on the weekend can help as a catch up and for extra recovery.

Staying Afloat

Achieving your goals

Goal setting is one of the most important things you can do as an athlete. Without a plan there is no purpose! Goal setting is like climbing a ladder - it is one step at a time until you reach your long term goal. Daily and weekly goals are really important to give you focus. Goals can be as simple as executing a perfect streamline off every wall, counting your dolphin kicks off the wall or reducing your kick time - improving any of these things and more will contribute to better racing performances. There are so many goals you can set but make sure that they are SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time bound) and make sure you write them down - it's like a contract with yourself.

Fuel for success

Planning is the key to doing most things well and planning for meals is no exception. You should eat whole foods as much as possible and limit foods that come in a packet. Swimmers tend to get hungry so make sure you have regular snacks during the day, training in the afternoon on an empty tummy is no fun. Look for low GI foods that will make you feel fuller for longer. A sandwich or banana are a good pre training snack. Recovery food post training and competition is important but be selective to avoid protein shakes or sports drinks and instead consume protein and carbohydrate rich foods and drink water for hydration. The Australian Institute of Sport website has great tips on nutrition, fact sheets and recipes for you to try (click here!).

Staying Afloat

Life After School

Start thinking about what you want to do after completing school or your studies. It should excite you just as much as your sport! At high school you are encouraged to plan for the future, swimming shouldn't stop those plans. You might just take a little longer than your friends to reach your work/study goal because you chose to have a reduced workload at school, at university or your trade. Swimming squads are great for networking as they include a lot of people who have different interests and their parents all have different jobs, so find out what they do. Those parents are good people to talk to about work experience options. I often write letters of support for swimmers applying to university or for high school to outline training loads and competition schedules.

Who to talk to about managing the pressures of school and swimming

Your parents and coach would be a great start! Organise to see your school counsellor, or year level coordinator if you are really struggling. Any of those people at school are a good resource for you. If you are showing equal amounts of dedication to your swimming and study you will receive more support from your school. Part of my role at Swimming Victoria is to help athletes plan to have a balanced life so you can contact me too! My email is:

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