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Swimming: The Next Generation
8 January 2013

Swimming: The Next Generation

story by Hannah Jansen 









On Tuesday 8th January 2013, I had the pleasure of co-presenting a Developing Champions workshop with Olympic Kayaker, Jesse Phillips. We were greeted with a small group of young, inquisitive, up-and-coming state swimmers. The session consisted of the modules ‘Communication’, ‘Me; You; Everyone’ and ‘Mental Skills for My Performance’. The workshop is designed to enhance young athletes’ sporting lives as they develop through the ranks, but I am also surprised to see how much I learnt about my own sporting life and how beneficial this type of self-analysis can be.

The workshop began with the Communication module, which deals with effective communication and the different types of communication athletes can use depending on the different people they interact with inside and outside of sport. This module is particularly important to today’s young sportsmen and women where the use of a phone call or letter has been all but replaced with text messages, Facebook, and Snapchat (Jesse and I did have to ask a few times what this actually was – it seems even at the ripe age of 27 and 22 we are falling behind in the latest technology trends!).


The next module covered was Me; You; Everyone, which tied in closely with the Communication module. It dealt with the different relationships an athlete encounters in their lives. We went through the different ways of dealing with the stresses of maintaining healthy relationships with parents, coaches, teammates etc., and also the all-important ‘what to do if you don’t get along with someone’. Very helpful for maintaining respect and trust, especially seeing as – although you may race individually – teams in swimming are still very important.

The final module covered was Mental Skills for My Performance. Arguably this is the most important of the three because of its direct correlation with improving athletic performance. The module covers in detail the strategies of mental skills training and how it can be used during competition but also during training. We went through different pre-competition routines and how these can be used to get into the right head-space for performance. Reiterated was the fact that these routines take time to perfect (so the swimmers must start working on these now!) and that they need to be flexible!

As this year is the first year of the new Olympic cycle, hopefully these athletes picked up some helpful skills and strategies that will enable them to perform and progress to the next level of their swimming careers, maybe even becoming the next Susie O’Neill or Kieren Perkins – heading towards Rio:2016 or (Tokyo, Madrid or Istanbul): 2020.

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