Coach Pete

Expert advice for Swimmers, Triathletes, and Coaches

Excellent Article on Fear

I found this article on the US Swimming Web-Site Written by BY AIMEE KIMBALL, PhD//Special Correspondent

About Aimee C. Kimball, PhD:  Dr. Aimee C. Kimball is the Director of Mental Training at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center’s Center for Sports Medicine. She received a PhD from the University of Tennessee where she specialized in sport psychology. She is an Association of Applied Sport Psychology Certified Consultant, and is a member of the American Psychological Association, the United States Olympic Committee’s Sport Psychology Registry, the USA Swimming Sports Medicine Network, and the NCAA Speakers Bureau. As a Mental Training Consultant, Dr. Kimball has worked with professional, collegiate, high school, recreational, and youth athletes in a variety of sports, including assisting the Pittsburgh Steelers in analyzing potential draft picks and the Pittsburgh Penguins in developing their players. She has been a featured speaker at conferences across the nation and has appeared in numerous media outlets across the country. Currently, Dr. Kimball works with athletes, coaches, corporate leaders, and other performers to assist them in achieving success in sport and life. (412-432-3777;   

  F is for FearOne of the worst four-letter words in an athletes’ everyday vocabulary is “fear.” It is an emotion that most athletes don’t admit to, yet when experienced, is constantly influencing their behaviors. This article will focus on rational and irrational fears, how to accept them and keep them from influencing your performance. Slaying the Big Bad WolfI have yet to meet an athlete who isn’t afraid of something. While a fear of spiders isn’t going to keep most athletes from performing their best, a fear of failure may. If you have a fear that is hindering you from performing your best, you have to examine the source of this fear. Common sport-related fears are:Letting down/disappointing others Making a mistakeHaving a bad raceGetting yelled atNot living up to your potentialGetting hurtNot being as good as you/others thoughtPainIf you can relate to any of these, take a deep breath, because it’s OK. It’s not all bad when you are afraid of something. It’s how you deal with it that counts. First, write down the fears that you have and determine whether or not they are realistic. If you have an unrealistic fear, it’s important to remind yourself that it’s not likely to happen. Be logical with yourself, “Come on. I’m being silly. My parents will not be disappointed in me if I have a bad race.”Second, if there is a level of honest concern (i.e., your coach will never put you in the event again if you mess up) then you have to accept this reality. Nine times out of 10, the more you focus on NOT messing up to avoid the reality, the more likely you are to mess up. If there is a realistic reason you are afraid to swim poorly, then focus on what you need to do to swim well, rather than what you are trying to avoid. For example, the conversation you’d have with yourself would go something like this:Negative You: The relay is counting on me. I can’t have a bad race or we’ll lose.Positive You: Yes, the team does count on me, but I’m pretty good, so I’m more likely to swim well than to have a bad race. I just need to get a good start, have smooth turns, and really kick strong. I’ve done it in practice. I can do it now. Third, have a routine. When athletes don’t have something they do consistently, there is a greater chance that something is going to feel off or that uncertainty will creep in. By having a routine that you do before every competition — a routine that does not change depending on how your last meet went — you provide yourself with a level of comfort. That is, when you always put your goggles on first or you listen to “Eye of the Tiger” right before you take the block, you feel more in control of your mind and body, the experience feels more familiar, and you will be calmer—all things necessary in keeping those worries at bay. Swim Your Best RaceWhen favored to win, athletes who are not mentally tough fear losing and compete that way. They are tentative and don’t do their best. When expected to lose, athletes often do better because they are focusing on causing an upset or because they are more relaxed since they have nothing to lose. If you find you fit into either category, remember who you swim should not determine how you swim. When you swim well against good opponents, you can swim well against lesser opponents. The mindset you have when you swim your best should be the mindset you have against every opponent.Swim to WinFear of the unknown comes because we’re thinking ahead. Stay in the moment and don’t worry so much about negative outcomes. You are out there to do your best, so swim like it. If you swim to win, your focus is on swimming your best and making the most of each stroke. If you’re swimming not to lose, you’re thinking of swimming poorly and the “what-ifs” often get the better of you. Thoughts of losing lead to anxiety, thoughts of swimming well lead to confidence. Which mindset would you rather have? Choose to be a warrior, not a worrier. Make it Great! 


May 28, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Dr. Keith Bell’s New Release

keith bell

Way back when, in the early days of my coaching career one of the first books that I read was “The Nuts and Bolts of Swimming” by Dr. Keith Bell. Keith is still out there writing great books for both swimmers and parents to read. His company Keel Publications out of Austin, Texas produces books for Performance Excellence. His latest book out is “76 Rules for Outperforming the Competition” is one of the books I recommend for young swimmers looking to improve their performance…Check it out! 

May 22, 2009 Posted by | Age Group, Books to Read, Coaches, Parents | Leave a comment

Fina’s Recent Ruling on High-tech Suits Raises Questions

This post is the opinion of a swim mother from the Ozark Swim Team. Her name is Michelle Cox, she is a 41 year old swim mother who is deeply concerned about the use of these new high-tech swim suits at swim meets….here is her post…Please let me know what is your opinion on this matter?


Michelle Cox,  concerned  swim mom

As is the case with most governing bodies, and as is the case with most decisions made by governing bodies, FINA’s ruling Tuesday in Dubai on High-tech racing suits leaves as many questions as answers.

This article goes into more detail, stating:

“After reviewing 348 swimsuits from 21 manufacturers,” FINA said in a statement, “the FINA Executive decided the following: 202 swimsuits approved, 10 swimsuits rejected for not passing the tests of buoyancy and/or thickness.”

FINA said 136 other swimsuits needed to be modified to meet the requirement that “swimsuit material shall not be constructed to or include elements/systems which create air/water trapping effects during use.”

FINA said the manufacturers had until June 19 to “resubmit the same swimsuit for FINA approval, with the corresponding corrections.”

My personal interest is that my daughter has a Blueseventy, which is not on the approved list. It is among the among the suits on the list that need to be modified. Blueseventy released this statement about the ruling. So I have a lot of questions:

  • Can Blueseventy appeal the ruling?
  • If Blueseventy makes the modifications to their suit and gets it approved by FINA, what happens to all the suits already purchased (at a hefty price tag, I might add)? Will Blueseventy replace those suits? Pay to modify those suits? Give a credit toward a modified suit?
  • Is this ruling effectively immediately? In other words, can swimmers who own suits not on the approved list wear them until all of the appeals, etc., are complete?
  • I have a friend who recently bought a Nike Swift — also not on the approved list — can that swimmer wear that suit at summer long-course meets?

Of course, on a more “local” level, USA Swimming has yet to make a ruling on this other than the ruling it made last fall.  Ozark Swimming, our swim club’s Local Swim Committee or LSC, adopted the same rules regarding high-tech swimsuits (aka Speedo LZR, Blueseventy) as USA Swimming.  Here is the wording that was adopted by USA Swimming at the 2008 House of Delegates:

Swimsuits worn for all 12 & under age group defined competition shall not cover the neck, extend past he shoulder, nor past the knee.

You can read this ruling  from last fall here.

I suspect USA Swimming, and thus, Ozark, will wait until all the dust settles and all the appeals and modification deadlines are passed before making any new rulings on the suits. That makes sense, but again, it leaves room for lots of questions regarding the summer swim season. Do the current USA Swimming/Ozark rules stand, which means our swimmers who own Blueseventy’s can wear them in summer competition, particularly big meets like Championships, Sectionals and Zones?

Interestingly, FINA approved the Speedo Lzr, worn by Michael Phelps and several other swimmers who set world records in the 2008 Summer Olympics.

I’ve written a lot about the Blueseventy controversy on this blog, and at my previous blogging site. If you choose to comment on this topic, please do so on this site, as I no longer write at the previous site or moderate comments there.  I will approve comments that leave a valid email address’s (which won’t be published, but is simply requested for verification). I will not, however, publish comments that are personal attacks on my family. Unfortunately, this issue has brought out the very worst in some people, so this clarification is necessary.

May 20, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Wake up and smell the coffee

coffee cup

Wake and smell the coffee, it later than you think….It’s time to intensify your training, it’s time to work on your technique, it’s time to pound out those yards….here’s what’s coming up:

Only 54 days until the USA Swimming National Championship – World Championship Trials – Indianapolis, IN – July 7-11, 2009
Only 70 days until the FGC Long Course Junior Olympic Championship – Plantation – July 23 – July 26, 2009
Only 73 days until the FINA World Championship – Rome, Italy – July 26 – August 2, 2009
Only 82 days until the United States Open Swimming Championship – Federal Way, WA – August 4-8, 2009
Only 88 days until the USA Swimming Junior National Championship – Federal Way, WA – August 10, 2009
Only 189 days until the FGC Winter Championship – Plantation – November 19-22, 2009
Only 203 days until the Short Course National Championship – World Championship Trials – Columbus, OH – December 3-6 2009
Only 210 days until the Short Course Junior National Championship – Columbus, OH – December 10 – December 13, 2009
Only 1171 days until the 2012 Olympic Games – London, England – July 28, 2012

May 14, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Mind Over Matter

phepls ondive


Just how good a swimmer are you? Have you ever asked yourself that question? How is it that your teammate swims so much faster than you? They swim in the same lane as you , they do the same workout as you, they have the same coach as you, they swim in the same water as you….So the all things being equal, how is it that they perform so well at at a meet and you have such a poor performance. Could it be that they are better mentally prepared ? Could be that they are more focused on what they have been taught ? The mental part of your training is equally as important  as the physical part….You have to be as mentally tough as you are physically tough. You have to be the leader of your lane, not the follower….you have to encourage your teammates to also be leaders in your lane….If you do this, could you imagine what an awesome workout you would have, could you imagine how well you will swim at your next meet?….It is all MIND OVER MATTER

May 11, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

I’ll be coming down to South Florida

sunset at the Athletic Club

This is a sunset at The Athletic Club in Weston Florida….When I was working there I always told people that I had the best office in town…I will be coming down to visit at the end of this month. I hope to see you all soon….Coach Pete

May 8, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment