By Chelsea White//Communications Intern
Not starting out in the pool until his teens, National Team member Josh Schneider is not your typical swimmer. With the mentality of keeping balance, he has found success through enjoying life both in and out of the pool. USA Swimming sat down with the former NCAA champion and had a chance to ask all the burning questions that our followers on Facebook and Twitter had to offer.
From Aoife Doyle: How do you get prepared for a meet mentally? What are your meet essentials?
Schneider: To prepare myself for a meet mentally I like to strip everything down to the basics—just getting up on the blocks and racing to win and not thinking about time or the outcome. I also like to think about everything positively. I don’t think that thinking negatively or in fear is going to propel you to victory. Hopeful thinking is going to be your greatest ally. My meet essential would have to be a new pair of shoes. I like getting a new pair of shoes just because I feel real clean and fresh. I feel good about myself when I have new shoes on.
From Fergus H. Chan: How do you pull out that last bit of energy towards the end of a race?
Schneider: When you are competing and you want to get that little extra bit of “umph” and get your hand on the wall, for me I like to anticipate the wall. I always know where the wall is; I put on blinders and never look at my competition. Know where the wall is, visualize it, anticipate it, and you will be 99 percent more likely to have a great finish.”
From Avery Mcallister: How do you stay motivated after a bad disqualification or simple stresses of life?
Schneider: I have learned over the years that you can’t put all of your eggs in one basket. You cannot have swimming dictate the happiness of your life. For me, what motivates me is improving my professional career out of the pool so that I can have balances in life. If all of your energy, focus, pride, and enjoyment is in swimming getting let down can be unhealthy. You are probably not going to swim well anyways if that is all your concentration. I have found that my best swims were when I stepped away from the pool and then came back to it. Ultimately my advice is to just find balance and not let one little defeat or disappointment define who you are. Just figure out what happened, what went wrong, and why- then formulate a plan on how to fix it. Then training is pretty easy after that and it can motivate you going forward.
From Racheal Barnett: How do you keep yourself calm before a race and not becoming too worked up or nervous?
Schneider: I like being nervous, if I am nervous before I race I know it is going to be a good race. The more nervous that I am the better I will race. If you can just harness that nervousness and clear your mind when you are up on the blocks it can propel your race. You have to change your mindset so that regardless of anything around you, you are going to go out, bust some heads, and have a really good race. Also, if you exude confidence when you are walking to the block, it is very intimidating for your competition. Even the fans grasp onto it when they are watching. In any race you can tell who is going to win when they are walking to the blocks because they have that eye of the tiger, that awesome feeling that just radiates from them where you can feel it.
From Andrea Chancey Blount: What relaxation or visualization techniques do you use before a race?
Schneider: It is all about breath control. Also, when he says “swimmers take your mark” just think about that beep. Don’t think about racing style, how hard you are going to ticket out, or anything—just think about the beep.
From Joseph Hartz: Is there any training tips you could give to a collegiate swimmer who is about to come into championship season soon?
Schneider: At the end of the season all of the hard work is done. The best thing is confidence and not second guessing everything. I can’t tell you how exhausting it is watching swimmers being worried about everything. Your body is going to do what it can do; it is your mind that you have to get ready. Just relax, when you get up on the blocks and then be extremely aggressive and win the race.
From Sherry Aslam: How did you balance your swimming career with your academics? Is it possible to succeed in both?
Schneider: The balance came pretty naturally because you get a lot of tools and resources through your college to help you. I was not a smart student but I was a competitive student because I always wanted to do better than my buddies in class. Like if I got a test back and I was studying with one of my friends, I always wanted to do better than him. So that is what drove me to study harder and to pay attention more. But that is how I balanced it, the competitiveness that I have inside me that drives me in swimming I just did the same thing for academics.
From @alyssaalyssa313: What's the most inspiring thing someone ever told you?
Schneider: I love this question a lot because there are so many; I am a big quote man. But the most inspiring quote that resonated with me was something that Muhammad Ali said: “I hated every minute of training but don’t quit, suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion.” When training becomes unbearable doing long routines I think of that quote in terms of I am going to struggle now and reap the benefits later so that I am proud of myself for just getting through it.
From @LAGoldSwimming: You started swimming at 14. Any thoughts about your career if you had started as an 8 and under?
Schneider: No I don’t, I think the reason that I did well in 2010 was because of my ignorance in swimming; ignorance was bliss then. I think that if I had started at age 8 I would have been exhausted in the sport. I have seen so many people burn out, which is why I want my kids do other sports. Being involved with other sports you can learn so much more because you use different characteristics. For example with football you are very aggressive, wrestling you have to be tough and golf you have to be patient. Every sport has a different lesson to be learned. If you are a swimmer and you think you can become the best swimmer just by swimming? It’s not going to work.
From @MarMar_2013: Football or Swimming???
Schneider: Football, because I love everything about football and what it represents. I played football last year on the semi-pro team and I made a catch across the middle of the field between two defenders, and even though it was maybe just a 35-yard play my teammates erupted like it was the greatest thing in the world—it was a fulfilling feeling … But swimming is the most pure sport out there. You get out what you put in. The longevity of (participating in) the sport is so much better than football, too.