This is a powerful mental training method, which can, when practiced correctly and often, greatly improve your performance.  We are strong believers in the theory that the mind dictates at least 50% of your results.  As a result, it is important to train your mind like you would train your body.  You can train it to be tough through enduring long and/or intense workouts and races.  You also need, however, to train it to feel and respond to the sensations it will feel during your big race at your ideal speed.  Visualization is like practicing achieving your goals without physically doing it.  Below are some ideas on what to do and how to do it.

Prepare. Visualization rides on the premise that you are simulating in your mind the actual event and how it will be during the race.  Therefore, the more you know about the environment that you will be performing in the better.  If you have already swam in the pool your race will be in you are already ready. If not, try to get a picture of it, or some good descriptions, if that is all that is available.  Find out if the water is cold, if the walls are metal or rubber coated, if the gutters are large.  Get info on the colors of the complex, the size and shape of the pool, and the size and shape and material of the blocks.  Get as much info as you can to paint a detailed picture.

Relax.  First, get yourself (if possible) to a quiet place where you can daydream the best.  If you do it best with music, you can use that.  Once you get in your ideal place, relax.  Try to get into a meditative state.  We encourage closing your eyes.  Block out all the other thoughts and environmental sounds.  To get yourself into an ideal state, take slow deep breaths and try to relax your muscles one group at a time.  Some people tense up their toes, then relax them, and then move on to their shins, and then to their calves and so on.  Whatever you do, the goal is to get relaxed.  This not only helps your mind, but also may help your body, which may not get as much relaxation as needed.

Visualize.  Once you are in a good meditative state, begin to imagine yourself on race day.  You can start it at any point you wish.  It can be changing in the locker room, or getting ready to get up on the block for your race.  Be as slow and methodical as possible with the sequence of events.  Be as detailed as possible.  Include the smells, the sounds, and all of the sights and feelings that you will be feeling.  Do this from start to finish, to you looking up at the clock and seeing the time you want to hit.

Pay particular attention to your body, and the way your muscles are going to contract and move.  Isolate particular parts of the stroke and/or the race that you want to nail just right.  Imagine yourself nailing it.  Do this for the entire race.  Repeat the race in your mind over and over.  You may want to vary the external stimuli in your mind, like varying the water temperature, changing your opponents performances, etc.  Try to get your mind prepared for all possible scenarios, by having you nail your race in every possibly circumstance.

That's it!  It is basically advanced, detailed daydreaming.  Make sure to experiment with this and practice it often.  It is not only fun to do, but we think it helps your neurons in your brain and your senses learn what to expect and how to react on race day.  Plus, it can't hurt!