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Russell Mark // National Team High Performance Consultant

Last month, Adam Peaty of Great Britain became the first person under 58 seconds in the 100m breaststroke and smashed the world record by over a half second in the process.  Only 8 other people have ever been under 59 seconds in the 7 years since it was first done, and yet Peaty is already forging ahead to new territory.


Here are 3 things that all breaststrokers and aspiring breaststrokers can learn from Peaty’s race 

  1. Violently lunge forward with your body, hands, and arms on every stroke.
    To do that, shoot your hands and arms forward, and jab your head and chest forward into the water.  Don’t squeeze your hands and elbows together so they can stay out of the way of your body.
  2. Increase tempo during the 2nd 50m of your 100m breaststroke.
    All of the best 100m breaststrokes in history follow this pattern.  To increase tempo without spinning your arms, just glide less and bring your heels up faster (set up the kick quicker).  Don’t try to increase tempo by spinning your arms faster.
  3. No matter how fast your breaststroke tempo is, you still have to get in a good line.
    Make sure your head still gets completely between your arms as you extend forward.  A common mistake in sprint breaststroke is that many swimmers just try to pull faster, but you have to maintain your technique and keep your head/body surging forward completely, along with your arms.

he latest articles from Olivier Leroy

If you would like to receive the twice weekly motivational essays by Olivier Leroy directly to your email, please send your email address to: and we will add you to the distribution list.


"I panicked,” said Cullen Jones, the 6’5 sprinter still dripping.

It was moments after the 50 meter freestyle final at the 2008 United States Olympic Trials, and Jones, a favorite to qualify for the American team going to the Olympics later that summer in the event, had placed a disappointing 3rd.

His assessment of the race?

He had come unnerved, spun out his wheels, so to speak.

As a result, he wouldn’t be swimming the event in Beijing later that summer.

Jones had succumbed to the pressure in an event that is probably more high strung than most—the splash and dash that covers the length of the pool in a thunderous, white-washed 22 seconds.

But as most competitive athletes full well know, you don’t need to be trying to qualify for the Olympic team in a pressure-cooker of an event like the 50 to be crippled by the pressure and anxiety that comes with trying to perform at your best.

Getting Lost in the Externals

Even though we aren’t all chasing down an international podium, Jones’ experience probably feels familiar.

From getting psyched out by the crowds and noise, to overly focusing on the competition, to over analyzing every aspect of how we feel getting behind the blocks, the experience is all too common.

So what we can do corral the anxiety and pressure that surges up as we stand up to race?

And what can we do to keep ourselves focused on our own performance instead of that of our competitors during the race?

Create an Anchor

One way to stay calm and relaxed is to create a set of cues for your race.

Before your next big race sit down for a few minutes and write out the various aspects of your race and how you’re going to execute them. With each stage of your race attach how you want to perform and feel.

Identify the scenarios where you are most likely to get flustered (or where you have struggled to keep focus in the past) and put together some cue statements to fall back on so that you stick to your race plan.

(To anticipate a question: No, you shouldn’t base your cue statements on what anyone else is doing. For example, “Be one body length ahead of the field,” is not a helpful cue statement.)

Here are a few examples:

  • If you know that you are going to be tense and over-excited at the beginning of a race, string together a couple cue words like, “Long and strong” or “Fast and smooth!” to help you stay relaxed.
  • If you typically catch yourself getting too jacked up behind the blocks, use a couple lines such as, “This is supposed to be fun!” and “This is what we do!” to help you stay calm and loose.
  • When that last 50 comes along, and your legs and lungs are burning, and the swimmer in the lane next to you is roping you in, use statements such as, “It’s go time!” amd “I will not be outworked!” to help you power through.

Best Practices

Here are a couple tips in designing your own set of anchors:

Make your cue statements simple. Complicated and long doesn’t mean better. The more simple your statements, the more you can focus on it. Consider “loosey goosey” versus “stay long and relaxed and remember to breath deeply and keep calm.” Keep it simple.

Describe a feeling. Instead of thinking to yourself, “swim super fast with perfect technique” during your first 25m, use a couple keywords like, “relaxed speed” or “easy fast.” You shouldn’t have to think about the technical components of your swimming when it comes to race time (that is what is practice is for).

In Closing

Cue statements can act as a powerful anchor to stop your mind from running wild on you. They’ll ground those stress-inducing and confidence sapping thoughts and keep you dialed in on your performance and executing the game plan you have for your own race.

The next time you have a big meet coming up take a few moments and write out a small series of cue statements that you will use before and during your big race so that you swim with more focus, more confidence, and more awesome.




What is of the happening,
Invariably I get an email from a young swimmer who is suffering from something we have all experienced at one point or another during our swimming careers…
I’ve known it well…
It’s the low ebb, the valleys, the low times when we are feeling a disturbing lack of confidence in ourselves, our swimming, and the hard work we have done in the pool.
We look up at our swimming heroes and imagine that they aren’t plagued by doubt or low self-confidence.
But they do.
Why Self-Confidence Matters
Seems obvious, but it is worth quickly going over the advantages that present themselves when we are feeling like a boss—


  • You are more likely to chase opportunities that present themselves.
  • Gives you greater degrees of certainty when decisions need to be made. Limits second guessing.
  • Confidence keeps you moving forward, always looking to increase momentum.
  • Swimmers with high levels of confidence chase down their own goals, not those of others, or the dreams that others dictate upon them.
  • Self-confidence gives you the courage and enthusiasm to take risks and chase the outer reaches of your limits.


Those moments where we are feeling low in self-confidence are no joke.
After all, they leave us feeling…


  • Constant need for outside approval or recognition.
  • Resentment and jealousy towards competitors and teammates.
  • Acute fear of failure, of coming up short.
  • Overly critical of personal image.
  • Over-reliance on how others perceive you.
  • Difficulty in letting go of mistakes and failures.
  • Resistant to trying new things.


How do we start turning these thoughts and feelings around so that we can get moving in the right direction again?
1. Act positive.
Thinking positive is good stuff, and has been shown to provide a heap of health benefits including lower rates of depression, increased well-being and even increased life span.
(I’ll take two, please!)
Take this a step further and employ positive action.
The steps don’t have to be massive or life-changing; quite often it is the small actions, the little steps that get the ball rolling, until eventually you’ve got so much momentum that the big stuff starts to come down with little effort or thought.
2. Get to the root of what makes you bursting with confidence.
Think back to the last time you experienced an episode of gut-busting self-confidence…
When you felt in control, your emotions in check, and your swimming was steady and effortless.
If it was a moment where you had a great race, think back to the circumstances that led to that amazing race and focus on emulating those, and not necessarily the race itself.
When you identify the things that lead you to feeling confident in yourself it becomes possible to replicate the scenarios in order to get that feeling on demand.
Getting into the nitty gritty of what makes your swimming work when looking at the process is an easy way to give you a sense of control with your swimming.
(And as a result, inject some confidence as well.)
3. Stretch yourself.
The most comfortable place in the world to be is your comfort zone.
It’s warm, fuzzy, and we know exactly what to expect.
Within our little sphere of safety we clutch on to our familiar habits and attitudes, even it they are detrimental to our long term success.
Doubt and insecurity are generally what keep us in there, and in order to bust out and gain traction on our goals we have to be willing to stretch our boundaries and seek out challenges.
Nothing grows legitimate confidence and destroys self-imposed limitations faster than doing something you’ve never done before. The resulting confidence will grow on itself, spurring you on to chase even more challenging limits.
4. Stop caring so much about what others think.
How many times could you have stepped up in practice or a workout but you were too timid or scared?
Odds are good the reason you stayed in the shadows has nothing to do with ability, and more about harboring a concern of what others might think of you.
In an age where we are constantly checking our smart phones to see if anyone has texted us, liked our Facebook status update, or retweeted our gem of a comment, it’s a refreshing and freeing moment when we stop seeking validation from others.
Putting yourself first, and above the expectations you believe others to have of you, is not selfish or brash.
It’s empowering, not only for yourself but also the people that surround you.
Don’t waste a moment chasing someone else’s dreams; make your goals completely and uniquely yours and motivation and resulting confidence will pour forth.
Once you stop putting too much stock in what others say about you, or what others think, you liberate yourself to chase the things you truly love.
5. Failure will not destroy you.
Being wrong isn’t a game-ender, and neither is failing.
No matter what your overactive imagination or others will say, the sky will not fall down if you stumble.
Failure becomes an invaluable learning tool once we decide to use it as such. In the immediate after-math of a stumble, take a breath, and then look around and figure out where the lesson is.
(There is always a lesson. You just have to open yourself to looking for it.)
Not only will tripping up occasionally make you mentally stronger, you’re gaining valuable experience that couldn’t otherwise be appreciated, while also getting one step closer to your goals.
Once the sting and timidity of stumbling is removed, and you learn to value them for the lesson and direction they provide, you can charge forth after your swimming goals with confidence and purpose.
In summary…
Self-confidance is something you can work on. You don’t need to live by its whims on a day to day basis in the pool (and in life).
Try out the above tips for a bit and let me know how it goes.
See you at the pool,



The Rio 2016 Organizing Committee had previously released the daily schedule of competitive events for the upcoming Olympic Games.  However, we now have insight into a more detailed break-down of each day’s events, as the actual times of each sporting discipline’s competitions have been released.

Complete Rio 2016 Olympic Competitive Session Schedule

There had been build-up of opposition to the prospect of swimming events starting at a considerably late time in the evening – 10pm local – in order to accommodate American TV broadcasters.  In fact, the Australian Olympic Committee initially vocally came out against the timing, only to reverse course and instead offer support just a few weeks later.

Nevertheless, the detailed session schedule reveals that the later start times for pool swimming events do indeed stand, with prelims at 1pm local time and finals at 10pm local time on each day of the competition.

Review of the schedule for other disciplines reveals swimming is not alone in its late start time. Basketball (10:30pm) and beach volleyball (10pm and 11pm) will also finish late domestically, but like swimming are among the more popular Olympic sports and will coincide with prime-time in the United States.  According to a USA Today article late last year, Rio organizing committee head, Carlos Nuzman, indicated that “We need to organize a schedule that the television asks, together with the international federations.  They decided with us.  We have no problems with this.  It will be good for the athletes.


9 Things You Know to be True if You Started Swimming Later than Everyone Else


  Golden Helmet March

This resource stems from a Case Study found in the “What Do You Do When?” chapter of Jim Thompson’s book, Elevating Your Game.

I work out year-round and lift weights regularly, but I can’t keep up with a couple of my teammates who have added a lot of muscle in a very short time. I suspect they are using steroids. Why shouldn’t I use them since I am at a competitive disadvantage without them?

Performance-enhancing drugs are cheating, and Triple-Impact Competitors® don’t cheat. They live up to their own standards (the S in ROOTS stands for Self) even when others don’t. There will always be cheaters in every aspect of life. Sometimes they get caught; sometimes they get away with it, at least for a while.

But cheaters always pay a price. For example, steroids have severe negative health impacts including hair loss, shrinking testicles, angry mood swings, sleep problems, nausea and vomiting, high blood pressure, greater chance of muscle injuries, aching joints, jaundice, shortening of adult height, and acne.

But the main thing to remember is that as important as it is to do well in your sport, as a Triple-Impact Competitor, cheating is not part of who you are.


Form for reporting Abuse or Bullying - it is private - electronic and safe!!!

Swimmers:  Swim a new AAAA time in an event then make sure your coach requests your AAAA Bag Tag from Maryland Swimming.

Your Senior Athlete Rep is... Ben Costello, CAA

Your Junior Athlete Rep is ... Allison Hu, EST

Click to see the The New Backstroke Starting Device

USA Swimming Offers Athlete Protection Training to All Swimmers! Click Here!

The perfect meet snacks for your swim bag - they won't get all black & squishy like a banana!

Are you moving? How to handle the 120 day rule - as soon as you find out!

Do your goggles fit?

Test: A method to test whether swim goggles fit well or not is to start by holding the goggles

over your eyes and then press into your eye sockets with your fingers in a firm, but gentle

manner. Upon letting go, the goggles should stay in place if they fit correctly. If not,

find another pair and repeat the process.

How can you as a MD Swimmer be heard?

Do you have a suggestion about a meet, award, or website? You have two athlete reps who are your connection to the MD Swimming Board of Directors. Their job is to serve the athletes in MD Swimming by listening to you and bringing your suggestions and ideas to the administrators who make the decisions in our LSC.

Reporting Abuse

 If you or someone you care about has experienced abuse and are unsure how to proceed, please contact Susan Woessner or Liz HoendervoogtUSA Swimming strongly encourages the reporting of sexual miscounduct or bullying by any member. USA Swimming appreciates your willingness to report inappropriate behavior. By contacting either Susan or Liz, you give permission for USA Swimming's Safe Sport Program staff to contact you. Out of respect for the importance of this issue and to encourage honest and effective reporting, knowingly false or vindictive reporting will not be tolerated.

Bullying, by anyone, is Abuse! Report It

Deck Changing is Prohibited! Just don't do it.

What is DECK PASS?

Trivia Question

inner Gets a $15 i-Tunes Gift Card

Any registered MD Swimming swimmer is welcome to play!!!

New Question:


Trivia Picture

This is an aerial view of Barra da Tijuca. The neighborhood of Rio de Janeiro where the 2016 Olympic venues will be located. The name "Rio de Janeiro" is Portuguese, what does it mean?

Congratulations to the following swimmers who have answered correctly : Lance Rombro, Victoria McArthur, Jeffrey McArthur, Michelle Feng, Averey Johnson, Zach Brown, Makenna Hammil, Delaney Hammil, Gaby Shenot, Yael Garcia, Ally VanNetta, Zach Potter, Boettinger

Last Month's Winner: Nicole Appiani, ASC

Last Month's Answer: Vinicius


Check out Previous Trivia Questions

Please email your answers to by 8PM Friday, June 12, 2015

How to play 

Winner will be determined by a random drawing from all of the correct answers submitted.

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