One Week To Go by Ellie Cole

Rio is now getting a bit too close for comfort.

The Australian Paralympic Swim Team have now been training in the United States for the last ten days. As an athlete, ten days in a hotel can make you a little stir-crazy. Having to cope with jetlag, pre-competition nerves and the extra amount of energy from taper can be difficult at the best of times. You would expect tension, short fuses and irrationality. You don’t see or feel these reactions when you are training in such a committed and uplifting team. We are all working towards a common goal – to perfect the things that can’t be perfected. We collectively want to make Australia proud of its National Swim Team.

We all know that the Olympic Games is the predecessor to the Paralympic Games. Its surreal to watch the Olympics beforehand, knowing that we will be walking into the very same stadium in just six weeks time.

Like all other Paralympians, I found myself wondering what the next few weeks of training would bring.  Would we be ready in time? There is never enough time to prepare – time is the enemy. There are just too many things to make perfect. Still, we all seem to chase it down anyway.

Results, results, results. That’s what it all comes down to.

Over our swimming career we are taught to focus on the process rather than the results that we are ultimately chasing. We hear the word ‘process’ so often that sometimes we mumble it in our sleep. This tactic has been designed to keep us grounded before we perform. If we start thinking about the results too much we can find ourselves consumed by fear and the sensation of being overwhelmed. We can start letting doubtful thoughts creep into our minds that serve no purpose but to let the game get the better of us.

There is a catch though -we aren’t human if we don’t think about winning. We can’t afford to be thinking about this behind the blocks. Instead, we have to practice the ability to completely trust our body to deliver the performance. We spend all that time being coached, coached, coached. But behind the blocks we have to let go of that and trust that we will act on instinct.

When it comes down to it, the thing that really matters to an athlete is:

Did I give it everything?

This doesn’t just apply to race day, but in every little decision that you have made before that moment.

This generally puts athletes into two different camps when they walk away from their Games experience.

1.     I did everything that I could.

2.     I messed up. I wasted my shot.

Im walking away from Rio in the first camp.