Sunset in Sierra Nevada

Sunset in Sierra Nevada (Photo: Inigo Mujika)

I just returned from an altitude swim camp with the Spanish team at the Sierra Nevada High Performance Center. It is a perfect setting for this type of training camp: a place where athletes and coaches can focus on the task at hand and work without interference in their quest for an Olympic goal that is getting closer and closer.

These camps are often characterized by long training days including several dryland and pool sessions. Here is an example of a typical day for an elite swimmer:

06:00 Small breakfast
06:30-07:00 Dryland core stability training
07:00-09:15 Swim session
09:15 Breakfast
11:00-12:00 Gym session
12:30 Lunch
13:15 Nap
14:30-16:45 Swim session
17:30-18:30 Snack + gym session
18:45-19:15 Recovery session
20:00 Dinner
22:00 Lights off

Such a demanding training schedule, the relative isolation of an altitude training facility, being away from family and friends for several weeks at a time, and setbacks in the form of severe fatigue, muscle soreness, illness or injury can sometimes take a toll on athletes and coaches, and undermine their confidence and drive to pursue their goals.

Here is something that may help athletes and coaches in times of doubt and diminished confidence:

Hockeyroos Mission Statement 1996:

“We will win in Atlanta by being the best we can be, because Olympic gold is the ultimate challenge in our sport. We will achieve this by playing beyond our previous performances and by never, never giving up.

I will be the best I can be by:

1. Continually challenging myself to go beyond my comfort zone.
2. Making the necessary sacrifices.
3. Believing in my ability and the strength of my purpose.
4. Valuing excellence, determination and dedication in both training and match play.
5. Having faith and confidence in, and being supportive of, my team-mates.
6. Not making excuses but taking responsability for my development, performance and for my life-style.
7. Seeking feedback and making contributions to the program.
8. Being tolerant of differences in others and respecting them for who they are and what they have to offer.
9. Accepting disappointments and frustrations and overcoming them by working together.
10. Having faith in the course of action chosen for the team and being committed to it knowing that it may not always be my preference.

We choose to do this thing NOT because it is easy but because it is hard.”

My best wishes to all athletes and coaches preparing for the London 2012 Olympic Games!


Charlesworth, R. (2006). The Coach. Managing for succes. RC Sports (WA) Pty. Ltd.

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