1. Missing Your Event
Fear: "I'm going to miss my race!"
Although it isn't brain surgery, a swim meet is more complex than other events. Unlike marathons or triathlons, there are multiple heats, events, and lanes.
How to Get Over It: Make sure you get to the event during the warm-up time and ask the clerk of course or check-in booth your event number and lane. These volunteers are usually more than helpful for a newbie and if they aren't this information is typically posted on a heat sheet which you can either buy or is posted on a window.
2. Goggles Falling off
Fear: "My Goggles are going to fall off!"
The dive is a most stressful situation for many swimmers, as it sometimes results in their goggles falling off! Luckily, many can still swim without their goggles and there are ways to prevent your goggles from falling off!
How to Get Over It: Practice diving off the blocks during practice and during warm-up at the meet (make sure you are using the blocks in the designated lanes and times, which they typically announce on the PA system). These practice starts test your goggles, allowing you to make adjustments, typically tightening them, for your race.
3. Not Finishing
Fear: "What if I don't Finish?"
Luckily, many swim meets offer many short races (sometimes as short as 25-yards/meters), making finishing more realistic.
How to Get Over It: Practice! I know is extremely simple, but practicing your race distances and speeds helps build confidence that you can finish your race. Unlike a marathon or triathlon, practice every swimming race is relatively short and simple!
4. Coming in Last
Fear: "I'm going to come in last."
Yes, coming in last is always an option. However, this is an option for swimmers of every level! I remember swimming at my first USA Nationals competition and worrying about coming in last, even though I was faster than 99.9% of swimmers!
How to Get Over It: Although someone does have to come in last place, chances are, it's not going to be you. At every swim meet there are many new swimmers, so if you are really worried about this, find a big swim meet with a lot of new swimmers. Typically, you can find the race results from last year and compare those times to your times in practice.
More importantly, don't worry about comparing yourself to other competitors! Swimming is a great sport where you get to compare yourself to your own times and let the clock be your main competition!
5. Looking "Stupid"
Fear: "I'm going look stupid."
First, no one has perfect technique or ideal times. Therefore, worrying about looking "stupid" isn't needed. Everyone at a swim meet is walking around half naked, in their suits, and luckily everyone is a different shape and size!
How to Get Over It: If you are really worried about looking "stupid" at a swim meet, go to one before and check it out before you race. While watching, you can see how everyone is different speeds, with different body types, but still having fun.