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The deep end

Feeding brain and body

Training a swimmer's brain as important as the bodyAt our county championships I was pleased with the overall results of my swimmers. Several swimmers achieved regional qualifying times. It is a really good feeling to see that everyone is improving and swimming faster.

I praised them for the PBs achieved but I always had in mind the future and long-term development of the swimmer.

Swimming is more than training up and down the pool for hours, for years. It is a highly technical sport that requires a good ‘engine’ but also a very bright, open-minded brain.

Of all the mammals, the human brain is the largest (in relation to body size) so it is important that you develop it and train it as well as the body.

Train the brain

If you optimise both body and brain, you’ll do well and swim faster. Too many swimmers and parents (and sometimes even coaches) fail to understand that concept.

This is because the emphasis is on the time and not on the skills. But you will not get the time without the skills. You will not get the skills without using the brain.

Most swimmers train seven to nine times a week, eat healthily, go to bed early, give their best at every session, do land training and stretch every week. But they don’t use their brain.

They sing songs during drills or long aerobic sets, or think about what food is coming after swimming. Or maybe think about the comments they’ll write on Facebook.

It pleases me to see that more and more swimmers come to me after a race and saying: ‘The time wasn’t great but my kick felt stronger’ or ‘I did rubbish but I went further underwater’.

This is of great interest to me because these young swimmers are thinking, and setting up the foundation for what is required at national and international level.

Ensure your swimmers train their brain as much as their body. This is an area largely neglected in swimming and where the biggest improvements can be made.

It takes time, patience, practice and self-discipline but it will be worth it. The brain is the most powerful weapon so don’t forget to get your swimmers to switch theirs on and use it.

 Here’s a quote that I like to remind myself of when I can’t find a solution to my problem and that illustrates my words quite well:

 ‘Dare to think! Dare to know! Have the courage to use your own intelligence.’ – Immanuel Kant.