Learning from Sophomore Fall Stress at UT!

This is a post from YoungTri Contributor Patrick LaBrode

“The only thing holding you back is what’s between your ears.”

This quote defines my sophomore fall 2013 semester.  I had the hardest class schedule so far during my time at the University of Texas, and on top of that, the swim practices grew tougher as well. This semester was full of highs, and many lows, but finally finishing and looking back, it was an amazing learning experience.

I was nervous for this semester in the beginning because I was taking a tough courseload that had me in class on Mondays from 8am to 1pm, no breaks. And Tuesday nights I had a lab from 6pm to 10pm. I wasn’t sure how I was going to balance my swim/school schedule at first.

However, having an entire year’s worth of college swimming under my belt definitely made a difference this fall. This season I can finally push myself harder than what is expected, instead of being in “survival mode,” like I was during my freshman year! I was also swimming faster times in meets than I was a year ago, so I was stoked about that.

My fall semester was still enjoyable - despite the highs and lows!

My fall semester was still enjoyable – despite the highs and lows!

But, like with any years — lows came with some of the highs that accompanied my settling into the swim team. With the stress from class and my grades, (which were lower than what I hold myself to) I had a couple of break down points. Including our mid-season taper meet, the Texas Invitational.

This meet (early December) was supposed to be a really fast meet for all of us — and I was hoping to go best times early on in the season. I was feeling great going into it, but that week I ended up having 4 exams. So I spent the majority of the week stressing, studying, and not sleeping. It was a bad combo, and my body felt the effects from it. I began having really bad acid reflux and trouble breathing and my stroke broke down. Needless to say, it was probably one of the worst swim meets I’ve ever had.

Although it was disappointing, I am (thankfully) pretty good at putting bad swims behind me. And I had finals the next week, so I had to focus on those — and didn’t have time to dwell on the past. I studied all week for finals and my grades came out a lot better than I had expected. And my swimming continued to improve as the semester went on from my newfound balance and focus.

Great to be back with my family over break!

Great to be back with my family over break!

Looking back on my semester, I realized I was always just a couple steps behind in my classes, always struggling to catch up. If I had put in the work early on (like I did at the end of the semester) my GPA, swimming, and self would have been much better! Through this experience, I realized that it’s important when you find yourself struggling with school and training to sit down, breathe, and write down a plan for yourself. You may be holding yourself back and be further along than you think 🙂

Here’s to a relaxing break and great spring semester!

-Patrick LaBrode

Swimming Through Texas: Second Year!

Another year as a Texas Longhorn swimmer is in full swing! Classes are harder than last semester, and the swimming is too!

I spent this summer in Houston (my hometown) swimming and trying to figure out what medical issues I have with my shortness of breath and extra heart beats. After multiple doctors and doctor visits, I was finally able to conclude that I have a bad case of acid reflux. During swim practice, the acid in my stomach would come up and irritate my lungs and heart. It was not a fun time. But with a change to my diet, I was back to the swimmer I was before I had these problems.

I found out that I had to cut out coffee (caffeine in general), soda, tomato sauce, acidic fruits, super fatty foods, chocolate, and other foods that cause acid reflux. I also can’t eat a big meal three hours before practicing or racing. And although I didn’t want to follow this diet, I knew that if I wanted to achieve my goals that I had to change my habits.

And I have changed my habits. I have been following the acid reflux diet as best as I can, and I have been swimming so much better. Both my body and my mind are motivated in practices and I’ve found the love for swimming I had several months ago!

I’ll keep you updated on practices and meets and just my life in general as I “swim through Texas” as a sophomore!

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Hook ‘Em!

Patrick

Swimming Through Texas: Overcoming Obstacles as a UT Freshman Swimmer

this is the third post in a series by YoungTri Executive Board member Patrick LaBrode about competing on the University of Texas at Austin swim team

As my first year at The University of Texas recently came to an end, I’ve been taking a look back at my entire year and season. My first year as a college athlete was nothing short of amazing! From the very start I just knew I belonged at Texas, and every day was a blessing. But that’s not to say there weren’t any obstacles I had to get over throughout the course of the year.

As a student, college classes were not easy. I came into my freshman year thinking it wouldn’t be much different than high school — but I as wrong. I had to pull multiple all-nighters (living off coffee and popcorn)! Balancing swim, school, friends, relaxation, and everything else was not easy — but it was always an awesome adventure.

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the pool at UT!

As a swimmer, things got pretty tough. I was training harder than I’ve ever trained — with longer practices, more yards, weights, drylands…etc. I even put on over 15 pounds in my first collegiate swim season. Having said this, my first semester of training overall went quite well! I was working hard each day, and posting some fast times at meets. I survived the rough Christmas break training, and was looking forward to the end of the season taper!

But then — just as I thought everything was going quite well — a major obstacle was thrown at me.

Come mid-January, I discovered that I was having extra heartbeats during practice. They didn’t hurt or cause me to feel dizzy or anything — these beats were just not normal. I went to the cardiologist and was given an “event recorder” to monitor my heart rhythm during practice and when I was having these extra beats. As these beats began getting more frequent, I began stressing myself out and thought something was seriously wrong with me. But the cardiologist concluded that I just had pre-ventricle contractions, which are not harmful at all (which was a huge relief).

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go Longhorns!

Just when I thought everything was okay, I began having trouble catching my breath during practice. I wasn’t getting that full satisfying deep breath that swimmers crave during a workout or race, and it was affecting my practices and my racing. And just if things couldn’t get any worse, I ended up catching a stomach virus, which had me basically out of practice for a full week. Finally, the virus went away, my heartbeats were normal, and my breathing was getting better. Going into my taper meet (end of February) I wasn’t sure how I was going to swim. My training for the past month and a half had not been up to my usual standards at all, and I was worried. But I just had to stay positive — and focus on doing well in the present — not my past obstacles.

I ended up posting best times in all of my events — maybe not by a ton — but it was a huge relief! Based on my past conditions, I was happy about my performance and finished the season strong.

My obstacles were very normal for any athlete. Athletes are always having tears here, breaks there, and overall sicknesses — but you can’t get discouraged by the setbacks that may come your way. All you need to do is listen to your coaches, your doctor, and stay positive. You can overcome any obstacle with a positive outlook on the situation.

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enjoying some time home with friends after my first year swimming at UT!

I’m looking forward to the next three years as a Texas swimmer! What obstacles have you dealt with in the athletic realm recently? How have you overcome them?

Stay strong,
Patrick LaBrode

Surviving Finals: Athlete Edition

By Patrick LaBrode

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Whether you’re a college student or high school student, you most likely have finals that are beginning to stress you out. I only have 2 finals next week, and I’m already stressing. Trying to cram everything you’ve learned from the past 4 months into your brain is not easy, and it can make you go a little crazy.

On top of this seemingly never-ending studying, you have hard training to stress over as well. Here a few tips to manage this crazy time — filled with intense workouts and assignments!

• Plan and organize! This may be most important tip. Plan your week — when you will study, when you will train, and when you will sleep.

• SLEEP! People believe pulling “all-nighters” are a good way to cram for a big exam, but studies have shown that not getting rest can have more negative effects on your grade than studying less for an exam. If you study earlier, you can sleep longer!

• Eat healthy and regularly! Make sure you maintain a good eating schedule. Eat healthy in order to fuel your body and mind to be stronger and last longer. You’ll be able to focus and maintain a clear state of mind.

• Use your workouts to your advantage. If you find yourself stressed from studying so much, take out your stress in your workout. Just focus on the “now” of the workout — push hard, and then you can feel relaxed when you go back to studying.

All four of these tips will work together to keep you strong and sane as you finish this semester. We are almost there! You got this 🙂

-Patrick LaBrode, YoungTri Executive Board Member and Swimmer at University of Texas at Austin

Jumping into a New Pool

This is part of the “Swimming Through Texas” series.

Read the last article in this series here.

Transitioning from high school to college for any freshman is always difficult…you’re living on your own now. There’s no one to do your laundry, tell you when to wake up/go to bed, or to make sure you go to class. You have to adjust to a new schedule and it’s pretty intimidating. For me, being a part of the swim team here at The University of Texas made my transition even more intimidating.

602667_10151404366627179_615689877_nThe teammates on my club and high school swim teams were my best friends; basically siblings to me. It’s easy to be yourself around the teammates you’ve been swimming with for about 4 years. Going to college meant leaving all of my friends behind and jumping into an entirely new pool. I was going to have to make new friends all over again. I had thoughts of “will they even like me?” and “will I even fit in?” It was really scary to think about. I was also intimidated because college swimming is an entire step up in training. I knew I was going to be training harder than I’ve ever trained, and I knew there was going to be a lot expected from me: from completing crazy hard sets to maintaining good grades in class. I often wondered if I was in over my head.

I talked my club coach about it and he really put things in perspective for me. For one thing, there are 10 freshman swimmers all in the same boat with me; feeling the same feelings. Also, he said that being on a college team basically forces you to have friends; because you are with your teammates almost 24/7. As far as being worried about my swimming and grades, he told me that I was going here for a reason, and that the coaches/team will help everything fall into place; that everything will be fine.

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my teammates and I!

My coach couldn’t have been any more correct. My teammates and I do spend almost 24/7 with each other and these guys are by far my best friends. School is tough, but being on a schedule with swimming really helps you stay focused and on track. And as far as swimming goes… it’s definitely not a walk in the park. Taking that huge step from high school to college athletics is a difficult step. My weekly yardage increased significantly… and add weights and dryland and you get one over-worked student-athlete. However, your body ends up adjusting and getting used to the strenuous workouts to allow you to perform even better.

Whether you’re going to college as a student, a student athlete, or even transferring to a new high school, don’t stress about intimidation. There will be some intimidation and an “adjustment period”, no doubt, but calm that down and turn that worry into excitement. Just remember that your new home isn’t as scary as you think… and everything will fall into place for you.

-Patrick LaBrode, YoungTri Executive Board Member

Tri Tweeting: Follow Some of the Best

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//the updated 2013 version

For all of you who don’t know, Twitter is the fast growing social network communication medium in which people express feelings, daily life, interests, etc. in 140 characters or less. With Twitter, you can follow anyone you want – even celebrities (or for our interest, pro triathletes). Twitter also allows you to post pictures, talk to friends, and see where others are located.

My favorite part of Twitter is being able to follow famous people (especially professional triathletes). Following professional triathletes allows you to see what their daily lives are like. They share their workouts, interests, pictures, nutrition ideas, and so much more that can benefit other triathletes. Following a professional triathlete is like getting to know that person – while you are thousands of mile away. Below is a list of professional triathletes I follow (my twitter account is @PatBro_). I have also included several triathlon related twitter accounts that give you info on races, other professionals, and tri tips! So follow away!

@theYoungTri: had to put this first… follow YoungTri! haha

@boomboomreed: Matt Reed! Professional Triathlete for 16 years, Olympian for USA, USA National Champ. Father of 3 kids, Husband.

@usatriathlon: Everything and anything from races to info to athletes all USA Triathlon!

@LauraRBennett: Professional Triathlete, Olympian for USA, World Champ… Really Awesome!

@triathlonlive: all live coverage on all ITU races

@hunterkemper: 3x Olympic Triathlete, 7x U.S. Elite National Champ, Husband and dad!

@KevinCollington: Really cool Pro Triathlete from Florida!

@sarahhaskinstri: Olympic Triathlete, US National Champ…many more accomplishments!

@tollakson: TJ Tollakson – Ironman winner, professional triathlete and engineer!

@camdyetri: ITU Elite Racer for USA!

@_Moffy: Emma Moffat, Professional Triathlete from Australia! ITU World Championship Series winner!

@mattchrabot: ITU Elite Racer for USA

@chrislieto: top ranked word class triathlete. 3 time Ironman Champion

@MaccaNow: 2x Ironman Champion, ITU World Champ

@JennaParkerLive: Professional Triathlete, Actress, Model, Harvard Grad.

@Mirindacarfrae: Professional triathlete, Ironman!!

@chrissiesmiles: 4x World Ironman Champion, World Record Holder, big smiler

@PaulaFindlay: Canadian Triathlete, Amazing ITU racer!

@IMF_Foundation: Ironman Foundation – raising money through Ironman events and supporting various athletic, community, education, health, human survice and public benefit non-profit organizations around the world.

@triathleteprobz: All your triathlon-related problems. Pretty funny!

@USATlive: Live coverage at USAT championship events and select other events

@bengreenfield: YoungTri’s official coach! He shares a lot of useful tips and stories.

@TeamWinter: A great foundation for prostate cancer! Founded by Winter Vinecki at age 9 after she lost her father.

Enjoy following, learning, and growing with the pros and the other accounts mentioned above! Did we forget anyone? Let us know!

-Patrick LaBrode