Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick
It’s that time of year again, conference meets are right around the corner and although you’ve trained all season to be race ready, the nerves are hitting hard. You’ve swum many duel meets over the season, but the pressure in unparalleled. You try some of your pre-race routines but they just don’t seem to help you relax. You’re starting to stress out badly! What do you do? Luckily, Olympian Cierra Runge has some advice on how to deal with the excessive pre-meet jitters. Having preformed on the highest swimming stage at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games, Cierra’s here to offer some helpful insight that you can incorporate into your next pre-meet routine!
Q&A with Cierra:
M.M.: Do you have a pre-meet ritual? If so, what is it?
Cierra: I really enjoy listening to music or talking and goofing around with my teammates. It helps me relax and not think so much before my event starts. I just like to zone out.
M.M.: So many swimmers out there have a pre-race routine, what’s yours?
Cierra: My pre-race routine is usually warming up, getting my suit on, warming up again and then same thing as before, listen to music. Once I get behind the blocks I usually get into the zone, stretch and think about my race and how I’m going to swim it. I think about the plan I have going in and what I talked to the coaches about prior to the race.
M.M.: What would you advise young athletes to do if they struggle with nerves before their races?
Cierra: I would advise to take a deep breath and remind yourself how many times you’ve swam this event. Don’t think too much about it. Let your body do what it does and the race will take care of itself.
M.M.: Can you share an experience where you had to calm your nerves before a race?
Cierra: Honestly, most big meets I’ve been to, World’s Trial’s and Rio. I would say the 200 free at trials was the race I had to calm myself down the most for. I just reminded myself to have fun and not get too nervous about it.
M.M.: Can you share your favorite race moment and how it felt afterward?
Cierra: For sure my favorite race moment was making the team for Rio. It was an all in situation. I remember gritting my teeth the third 50, thinking, “you have to put everything into this to make it”. So once I hit the wall and saw I made the team, it was an incredible experience.
M.M.: What other advice would you give young swimmers approaching their first BIG meet/Conference meet?
Cierra: I would say have fun – don’t put too much pressure on yourself. If you have a bad swim, try to brush it off and focus on the next event. Remember… it’s just one swim, not the entire meet!
2016 Olympic Gold Medalist | 800 Freestyle Relay
Summer Swim Team: Nottingham Marlins Swim Team | Central Maryland Swim League