Be Flexible to Compete at Your Best

Be Flexible to Compete at Your Best

By Lindsay Mintenko//National Team Managing Director  | Tuesday, May 24, 2016

The swim meets you are used to swimming in every weekend require an amazing amount of planning. As much effort as goes into running those events from athletes, coaches, parents and meet organizers, you can only imagine the amount of planning it takes to put on an Olympic Games. 

The complexity of the Games also means much more can go wrong.

The Olympics isn’t about just swimming. The Olympics is a multi- sport event with 28 sports and 18,000 participants, including athletes and support staff. The behind-the-scenes logistics is amazing. 

This summer, I will have the privilege of attending my fifth summer Olympic Games. It is quite an honor to be a part of so many athletes’ dreams. I have learned many things by attending the Games, one of the most important being the ability to be flexible. 

By now it is has been announced that USA Swimming will be moving the preparation camp this summer in order to help ensure the health of our Olympic Team. However, it didn’t come without heartache and flexibility. Our plan to attend camp in Puerto Rico has been in place since late 2013, and to have to change it so close to the Games has required a lot of flexibility and understanding from many parties. Fortunately, our athletes were able to be informed of the change well in advance and will be able to adjust. Unfortunately this is not always the case. 

At the Games, things aren’t always perfect, and something will surely go wrong. The bus will be too full, and you will have to wait for the next one, or the line at the pasta station (because it is the only food you can eat) in the village dining hall is much longer today than it was two days ago. The best you can do as you get ready for the Olympic Games, or even Olympic Trials, is to plan the best you can, but be flexible if things don’t go the way you planned. 

The best story I have about the importance of being flexible dates back to Sydney in 2000. 

Erik Vendt was preparing to swim in the finals of the 400 IM early in the competition. He was on the bus from the village to the venue when he realized he didn’t have his accreditation. You can’t get anywhere during the Olympic Games without your accreditation. So Erik had to go back to the village to get his pass, except he couldn’t go through security. Security had to call the USOC to get into Erik’s room, get his accreditation, and bring it to him and the village gates. He finally got his pass and got back on the bus to get to the venue. With half the warm-up he would normally to do prepare himself for an Olympic final, he was flexible and did what he could and ended up winning a silver medal. Being prepared to be flexible can work out to being on the podium! 



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