I suppose becoming invincible is the ultimate goal of any performance athlete, that nothing can get you down. But it will take years of hard graft to achieve that goal. Careful management of resources is required.
This year’s competition schedule, with the unexpected 3km Open Water thrown in, was simply too much for a young person like Madison. She already trains quite a lot, perhaps above average, compared to her peers, yet unexpected demand on strength just collapsed the shoulder muscles eventually when the 400 IM followed an 800 freestyle, which followed the 3km freestyle.
Just because somebody is young and fit obviously doesn’t mean they are also invincible.
We’ll learn from that for next season. Last season we did more than 1 competition per month. We’ll try a more targeted approach, carefully selecting meets and strokes to slowly develop a repertoire that is sustainable and promising.
Talking of sustainable, we noticed that some former swimming and training partners have dropped out of competitive swimming when goals were reached. That is a bit sad. We want to continue the swimming and make it a lifestyle that can be maintained forever. The drop-outs were swimmers who specialise really early and the danger is that there is not enough to go along with once a certain goal is reached. Yet I cannot rule out that an injury stopped the sport for those who dropped out.
Swimmers don’t have to reach their peak aged 14, there is plenty of lifetime to come. Swimmers need the self-confidence to develop their swimming styles regardless of constantly winning medals. Of course a swimmer wants to reach the regionals but winning medals is often the prerogative of specialist swimmers who decided quite early what to focus on.
I think too much pressure to reach very fast times too early can push swimmers over the edge and drive them to injury. Yet it is often the swimmers themselves who set themselves goals, which are too high.
Every swimmers who takes part in age-group competitions makes a positive contribution to the sport.