multi eventingSwimming has changed! The sport’s got a whole lot mess-y-er!

It wasn’t all that long ago when you had to be a butter-flyer, a backstroker, a breaststroker, a freestyler, a sprinter, a distance swimmer or an IM-er. Seemed like you had no sooner taken up the sport of swimming, when someone was trying to make you A-something.

Somebody would tell you, “If you want to be a great swimmer, you need to be a-something” – (usually a-one thing).

Now – if you have to be something – you can be a M.E.S.S. – a Multi Event Stroke Swimmer! Gives a whole new meaning to someone telling you your room is “messy”doesn’t it?

With some of the world’s greatest swimmers now showing that it is possible to be great at more than one stroke, multi eventing – (or M.E.S.S. for short) has become something for all swimmers to consider.

Why be a M.E.S.S?

Swimming several events gives you races to look forward to – no matter how good or bad you might be feeling in the water. Sometimes you can feel great in every event, and across every stroke. Other times you feel great in one stroke, but not in others. Some days you feel great over one race distance, but not over others.

No matter how you feel, as a M.E.S.S. there will be something for you to look forward to.

1.       Being a MESS gives you lots of options in racing;

Imagine going to a meet and knowing: “I can do anything!”

A Freestyle event comes up – you can do it!

A great backstroke race is on – you can do it!

The Medleys – distance events – the sprints…. You can do it, you can do it, you can do it!

The great thing about being a MESS is having the skills, technique, confidence, knowledge and abilities to choose to do anything!

You could choose to concentrate on one stroke across several distances. You could choose to concentrate on one distance with several strokes – all the 50s, all the 100s, all the 200s.

You could swim every stroke on the program in order to gain race fitness and master back-up racing – perfect for improving your ability to swim fast heats, semi finals and finals format racing.

You could do only the events where you currently feel fast and fit: or you could deliberately do the events that don’t feel so good and improve your skills, strokes and speed: strengthen your strengths and overcome your weaknesses.

Nothing feels better than being able to choose to choose!

2.       Being a MESS gives you lots of choices in training;

As well as having the choices in racing, being a MESS means you have more choices in training: millions of ‘em!

Fitness is fitness. Sure – stroke specific skills, power and strength for each event have to be practiced and mastered sometimes, however swimming is swimming, water time is water time, streamlining is streamlining! Underwater swimming is the same for fly and free, and also backstroke, and the skills practiced in one stroke will often improve skills in another stroke.

Most swimmers go to training thinking “I have four training choices – my main stroke, my main stroke kick, my main stroke pull and my main stroke skills /drills”.

MESS swimmers go to training knowing they have more conditioning combinations and training options  than the best Pizza place in the world has topping choices!

3.       Being a MESS gives your body (and your brain) a break;

Being a MESS means never having that “Oh no – not another freestyle session” kind of feeling. Every session is an opportunity to learn, grow, improve, discover and experiment.

No more mental “blah” days when you find it hard to concentrate and find the right motivation to switch on your swimming brain.

No more workouts when your legs are so tired and worn out from swimming miles and miles and miles of the one stroke.

With MESS you feel fast, fresh and fabulous most of the time because every session – every day – every week is delightfully different.

4.       Being a MESS is more fun.

Write down the things you really enjoy doing – what is it about the most fun things you do that makes them so much fun?

They are:

  • Interesting;
  • Challenging;
  • Enjoyable;
  • Stimulating for your brain;
  • Something you can do with your friends;
  • Always new, different and exciting.

Ta-daaa! That’s what being a MESS is all about.

5. You never grow out of being a MESS!

We’ve all seen the swimmers who were great backstrokers at nine years of age and sort of outgrew the stroke – (or the stroke outgrew them).

We’ve all trained with the swimmers who were doing huge volumes of training in their favourite event when they were 13 and then got tired, bored and flat and were off playing one of the big four balls (Baseball, Basketball, Football and staying at home having a ball doing nothing)  by the time they were 14.

As a MESS – you never outgrow your stroke or your event – because you don’t have one….you have lots of them. As your body changes, develops and matures – you can simply switch focus, change direction, change emphasis and voila: You are still the great swimmer you always were!

OK – so maybe you are reading this and thinking, “but I want to specialise in one stroke and be the best of the best at doing it”.

That’s great – if you have the passion, talent, commitment, desire and motivation to be the best in one event –go for it – give it your best – give it everything you’ve got.

But the point with being a MESS is that you don’t have to be a-anything – being a MESS means you can choose to do one, two, three, four or twenty seven thousand different events and get out of swimming what ever you want to get out of it. It’s a great sport – make it yours!

So go ahead – be a MESS – and for the first time (and maybe the only time) in your life being MESSY will really pay off!

 And now…for all you MESS’ out there, The MESS Poem:

 Being a MESS with lots of strokes,

Means I have more fun than other folks.

I get to master all the skills,

With lots more strokes and lots more thrills.

I never get tired, or bored or flat,

Or lazy or dull or anything like that.

I never get sick of the same old pool,

Cause everyday is new and cool.

So why not be a MESS like me,

Have a lot more fun and feel a lot more free.  


Wayne Goldsmith and Helen Morris.