How to Calm Down Before Swim Team Tryouts

It’s easy to feel anxious before tryouts. And we’ll be the first to say that it’s okay! Feeling anxious is a natural response to what you perceive as a stressful situation. But there are also ways to help calm down before swim team tryouts. 

Related article: 5 Things to Know Before Joining a Swim Team

You might find that none of these suggestions will work for you. And that’s still okay! What works for one might not work for someone else.

Everyone has their own way of dealing with stress and anxiety. These tips are only meant as a suggestion and are by no means a sure solution. 

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The saying ‘practice makes perfect’ applies nicely here. 

While you don’t need to practice for hours every day, getting in the water daily can help you calm down before swim team tryouts. If you can’t get in the water daily, even a few times a week can help. 

It won’t take away the overall anxiety that you might get before tryouts. But much like studying before a test, it makes you more familiar with what’s required of you. And in turn, can make you feel more comfortable and relaxed on the big day.

If you already know what’s expected of you at swim team tryouts, make sure you take the time to practice those requirements. 

As an example, if you have to swim a 50 freestyle in a certain amount of time, make sure you practice that. Try to hit the required time or something faster if you can. And once you know you can make a requirement with ease, then move onto the next one.

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It’s tempting to work on what you know or what you’re best at. But you should also practice the requirements that you’re not the best at. Even if you can’t make the requirement, such as a 100 IM, you can still work to better it.

Lastly, practice isn’t just about preparing you for tryouts. It’s also helping you build up your strength and endurance in the water for when you make the team. It’s a win-win situation!


You might not know it, but even professional and elite-level swimmers visualize their races before meets. It’s part of mental training that can help them focus, prepare, and calm any nerves they have.

Every swimmer differs in what they visualize. From winning an event to mentally walking their way through the race itself. 

And this process can also work for you! For meets or even tryouts.

To be honest and upfront, visualizing doesn’t work for everyone. And it’s a skill that needs to be worked on if you want to use it to help you calm down. But you should still give it a try if you find yourself anxious for tryouts.

Related article: What Do Coaches Expect from Swim Tryouts?

Find an area that works best for you. Some swimmers need quiet to do this while others can visualize in a noisy room. 

Let yourself envision various components of your tryout. Mentally count your strokes as you visualize yourself in the pool. Or do a turn in your head and narrate the process to yourself.

How are you going to complete each requirement asked of you? And which ones will need a bit more attention? Let yourself focus on those and visualize yourself being successful in them. Setting that positive mentality can help ease some nerves.

Pep Talk

It might sound cheesy but giving yourself a pep talk is one way to calm down before swim team tryouts. Thousands, if not more people give themselves mental pep talks before tackling something they feel daunting.

We’ve all done it at meets, especially before an event that intimidates us. 

For some, it’s as simple as telling yourself: ‘you’ve got this.’ 

Others might need a bit more to get themselves feeling hyped up and ready to go. Such as a series of different motivational pep talks. 

Related article: 10 Myths About Swim Teams

Not sure what to say to get yourself ready? Everyone differs on what works for them. Several swimmers we know reassure themselves by focusing on how short the race is. Either in distance, laps, or even time. 

It might seem silly, but it works for them! We’ve used it before for races we’re not particularly fond of. Looking at you 100 fly.

Try some of the following pep talks below:

  • It’s just a down and back a few times
  • It’ll be over in XX amounts of seconds or minutes
  • I can do this
  • I’ve trained for this and I’m ready

If they don’t work for you, that’s okay! You might need to create some other encouraging words on your own 🙂 

Listen to Music

You might find that instead of needing a pep talk, listening to some music works wonders to help you calm down. Again, the type of music people need to calm their nerves varies. You might like something fast and upbeat. Or you might need something calm and soothing.

Try out different genres whenever you find yourself thinking about swim team tryouts. See if any of them help ease any nerves you might have. 

Make sure you speak to the coach to see if you can listen to music just before tryouts start. If you’re not allowed to bring your phone or other electronic devices on deck, you might need to consider a different option.

Or, listen to something just before going on deck and keep that song/beat stuck in your head.

Talk to a Friend

At swim meets, you see swimmers work their way through all kinds of nerves. From the quiet and focused type to the one chatty swimmer who has to talk through their anxiety. 

Some people are more inclined to feel at ease during stressful situations when they can talk through their nerves. Random rambling or confessing to how anxious they feel. It doesn’t matter. 

We’ve seen it before and personally, we’ve done it, too.

Sometimes talking to someone, especially a friend or teammate, can help you calm down. 

If you know this is you, see if you can’t find someone to talk to. Chances are, you’re probably not the only one nervous at tryouts and this might help you both calm down before swim team tryouts. 

And you might find yourself with a new friend once everything is said and done 🙂

Deep Breath

Take a deep breath. Or two or even four. 

Taking a deep breath seems cliché, but it’s more beneficial than you realize. You do it without realizing it half the time. Such as before or during a test. Just before a job interview. Or even doing something that makes you nervous.

When you take a deep breath, it forces your body to respond. Your heart slows, your muscles relax, and your body starts to destress. 

The key is to make sure you’re taking a deep breath properly. Yes, it sounds funny to say that. But deep breathing – the breathing that comes from your abdomen – can help reduce stress and anxiety.

The American Institute of Stress (AIS) provides three certified techniques to help you deep breathe properly. 

When done correctly, deep breathing can increase the oxygen to your brain while feeling connected to your body. Some say that doing this exercise means you should breathe with your full body. 

So take a deep breath before tryouts and relax your body. You might find that it’ll help calm you down so you can have a better tryout.

Best of luck to you! And as always, to happy swimming!


Bonus Content:

Should I Join my High School Swim Team?: Looking to join your high school swim team? Before you sign up for the team, here are some things to consider before making the commitment.

6 Reasons You Should be on a Swim Team: (coming soon)

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