By Mike Gustafson//Contributor | Wednesday, March 22, 2017
The final 5 yards of a race are often the most intense. Eyeballs are popping. Veins are pulsating. Muscles are aching. It’s a final desperate claw-and-stretch adventure towards that wonderful, wonderful timing pad. The final 5 yards of a race feels like the end of a journey, which it is. An entire season’s worth of training culminates into one race, and the last few yards is the last mountain peak.
Getting there can be tough.Previously, we uploaded ten thoughts swimmers think about on the blocks.
This week, here are A Swimmer’s Thoughts During the Last 5 Yards of a Race…
1. The wall is moving away from me.
This is particularly evident in backstroke. You see the flags coming, but the wall never does. Especially in long course. I believe there is actually a conspiracy against me that whenever I swim long course, someone moves the wall ever-so-slightly away while I swim.
2. Please don’t die, self.
Once I blacked out during a race. I have only myself to blame: I took out the first 100 meters of my 200 fly in a personal best time… for 100 meters. Needless to say, the second-half of that race was…painful.
3. Grow, arms, grow!
I’ve always been envious of Matt Grevers. Because when Grevers swims alongside virtually anyone else, and he’s tied going into the flags, he’ll out-touch them every time. It’s a bit harder for those of us several inches shorter. Which is why I always hope, miraculously, under the flags, my arms will grow just a couple of inches.
4. Seriously, where is the wall?
5. Time the finish.
Not in seconds, but in strokes. Especially in breaststroke. Any good finish is about timing. (Just ask Michael Cavic.) Five yards from the wall, take stock in where you’re at, and where the wall is at, and the stroke timing you need to finish perfectly extended into the wall.
6. Don’t breathe.
Don’t breathe into the wall. Just don’t. Nothing shows more of a breakdown in concentration than taking a nice, big whiff of air during freestyle one stroke before the wall.
7. Head down, arms out.
This is pretty much for any stroke, any race. Don’t look at your competitors. Don’t look at the wall. Put your head down and extend as faaaaaaaaaar as possible.
8. DON’T DIE.
10. …. That wasn’t so bad.
You finish. You look at the scoreboard. And immediately, you want to do it all over again. (Well, maybe not immediately, but you get it.)
Follow Mike on Twitter @MicGustafson or ask him a question for his weekly advice column @ firstname.lastname@example.org.