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Calling An Audible

Written By: Adriana Contreras

Here we are, in the middle of high school season and quickly approaching a short but fast long course season. It seems every week has something that we need to be preparing for.

Week after week, we’re asking athletes to come in and work their hardest for competition 5-7 weeks ahead while also preparing for their upcoming dual meet that week. In addition to their athletic demands, these same athletes are trying to balance the increasing demands of school work as they either return from spring break or the teachers try to “front load” all of the work that would otherwise be covered during that time away from the classroom.

Needless to say-the athletes are EXHAUSTED.

This morning at practice we walked in and I noticed the otherwise chatty group of senior swimmers was dead silent as they prepped to jump in the water this morning at 5:30am. When I say silent, I mean no joke, you could have heard a pin drop. Weighing my options and thinking about the awesome workout I’d written for the morning, I dared to ask the swimmers how they were doing and was met with inaudible groans and “meh” responses.

So I decided to “Call an Audible” and we relocated to the team room on the pool deck to have an impromptu meeting.

With no plan for this meeting, I opened up conversation about how each of the kids was doing as each of them “unloaded” all of their stressors and exhaustion to the group.

I’m not a fan of what I’m sure most of us would call a “pity party” and so guiding the conversation to stay solution-oriented versus soley complaining was necessary. We broached topics such as expectations and goal setting as well as dealing with outside pressures.

After about 35-40 minutes chatting back and forth, I could see all of the moods lighten and we wrapped up conversation to get in the pool for the morning. We spent the remainder of practice working on flip turns and chatting about whatever came to the kids’ minds.

But what I learned from the conversation wasn’t actually the content of the discussion that started the morning…

What I learned from “Calling an Audible” today, was the need for us as coaches and leaders to take a step back to understand the pressures of what student-athletes are dealing with and what coping skills were not taught or were not able to be applied during the last two years of dealing with COVID.

We get much more value from taking a breath, remembering that even while looking towards our goals, it's okay to take a step back from the physical growth to take care of the mental growth. Not only does the audible change our timeline, it allows our athletes to put a voice to the thoughts in their head so they can be successful humans beyond their time in the pool.

Professional Background:

- Senior Group Coach at DART Sacramento

- Head Coach of St. Francis High School Swim Team

- Assistant Coach for University of the Pacific Men’s & Women’s Swimming Teams

- Senior Group Coach for California Gold - Lodi Swim Club

- Age Group Coach for Tiger Aquatics

- Has served on the following USA Swimming Staffs: Zone Diversity Select Camp, Zone Select Camp, and National Diversity Select Camp

- Currently serves on the Sierra Nevada Swimming Board of Directors

Swimming Background:

- Grew up swimming for Swim Club of NorCal and Tiger Aquatics in Stockton

- Swam at Cal State East Bay

- Favorite events: 50 Free, 100 Free, and 100 Fly


- Graduated from St. Mary’s High School in Stockton

- Is a Soccer Referee at the professional and Division 1 levels

- LOVES Chocolate Chip Cookies

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