By Neil Storey

You’ve done the training, you’ve done the stretches, you’ve even listened to the coaches. You know you’re fitter than ever and have a great stroke. How can You use of all that when its time to race?

Early night

More important than race suits or fancy goggles, a good nights sleep does wonders for your performance. No Facebook , twitter, snapchat, x-box, PSP, iPad after tea, it doesn’t let your brain relax.


Your body needs energy to perform like a car needs petrol. It needs it all day, in little amounts at a time.

There are slow energy releasing foods and fast ones. To race we need fast release energy but that gets used up just sitting around waiting (look at swimmers legs tapping away while the wait !) so we have to keep topping it up.

Fuel up with a slow release breakfast eg muesli, fruit, oatmeal (porridge), yoghurt, bananas and plenty fluid. Pasta is great for lunch, mars bars and chips ARE NOT !!!

Poolside, nibble on cereal bars, oatcakes, flapjacks, bananas, fruit gums, harribo ( not a packet at a time) right up to race time.

Drink plenty of water all the time.


Stay warm on poolside. You can always take something off. T-shirt, Tracksuit bottoms, sweatshirt, pool shoes. Some may like to wear trainers or socks. Warm muscles are supple and ready to work.


As soon as you think “I’m not going to do well or I’m not going to win”, the chances are you won’t. Muscles get tight and don’t work as well or as quickly if you are tense.

Behind the blocks, feeling butterflies in your stomach is a good thing, you want them, they make you go fast. If they are not there you are not ready! Jump around, swing your arms, don’t just stand still waiting for the whistle.

Think, “I have trained well and hard, I’m stronger and fitter than ever”, then, just relax and let all your hard work pour out in the race, your muscles know what to do so don’t let your mind stop them!

Getting upset or disappointed

You can only ever be upset or disappointed by a swim IF you have given everything in training and not skipped either sessions or sets, otherwise, you know deep down why the swim was slow and what to do about it.

Learn from any mistakes

After a swim or gala think “Could anything be better ? “, was I ready to race, goggles, hat organised. Was I warm enough, eaten enough, too nervous, too laid back ? Had I prepared in training, both fitness and technique including starts and turns? Did I concentrate or daydream, too much fooling about or too anxious/serious ? If you swam well, remember how that felt and aim to feel the same next time !

Learn to love racing……’s the best bit !!!

How to Race