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By Rory Dickson

After two weeks back in the water, our swimmers will not only be feeling fitter but also better about themselves, which is no surprise when you consider the metal health benefits of swimming.

Our swimmers may still feel they are missing something, this something may be competition.

Coping without competition will have been the hardest aspect of the pandemic for some swimmers.

In terms of mental health, our competitive swimmers, who are used to competing in that race environment, go through a whirlwind of emotions – not just positive.

COMP

Success, failure, pressure, excitement, anger, joy is just too name a few, it is very easy to build up one race in your head and let it spiral – we only get one chance – and that is what makes it so addictive.

Coaches tell us to have tunnel vision in a race, only focus on ourselves, focus on our own goals because reaching them will mean the most.

Although squad morale is important, it is ultimately always down to you to make a difference, this is not like other sports where the team can drag you through.

Once the whistle goes, you are on your own.

Take the 50 for example, have to be at your best for 30 seconds for each year at each target meet, it has to be perfect.

Immense pressure is on swimmers to compete at their best, but if all goes well, which it should if preparation is correct – the feeling is unmatched.

Training routine and being in a social environment is very important but a lot of swimmers will have missed raw competition, the pandemic made it extremely hard for our swimmers work at a level like this.

It is believed leisure swims and low impact; low stress environments improve mental health but competing and succeeding brings something out of swimmers which is so important.

Coping without competition has been one of the toughest aspects of the pandemic, as athletes we feel the need to challenge ourselves and keep working towards our goal.

Structure and routine are so important to our training environments but as we move into what should be the most competitive part of the season, excitement grows.

Swimmers should think about their highest high, and chase it, now that those opportunities begin to present themselves again it is so important not to give them up.