Most swimmers come back from a ‘bad’ race and answer the question; “how was your swim?” with the one word answer “crap!”.
Bad swims are not bad. They are good. However, swimmers are emotionally tied-up with their swimming, so it is difficult to look at a bad swim unemotionally.
Every bad swim is an opportunity to see how you are adapting to your training. So mistakes are the weak links that need to be studied and corrected to make them strong.
If a swimmer is so upset about their swim that they won’t talk about it, then a learning opportunity is lost.
So, as a coach, having seen this reaction many times (some very emotional reactions!), I like to discuss this important aspect of racing before any learning is lost. I call the discussion C.R.A.P.
‘Crap’ is a wonderful topic title because it makes swimmers laugh. Then I know I have their attention and piqued their curiosity. It is memorable and relevant.
C.R.A.P. is an acronym of continuous revision after performance. For every mistake there is likely hundreds of things that went right. Swimmers, unbeknownst to them, are already experts. Their years of training has brought them to an incredible degree of skill. In the alien environment of water, swimmers are unbalanced, can’t breathe, and move through the medium which is 800x thicker than air. Small mistakes should be expected. Probably more than one!
Once a swimmer accepts CRAP then they will hopefully use the old adage ‘it is okay to make mistakes but make them only once’. So race the best you can then analyse it like a scientist with your coach.