Melanie MargalisÂ calls them complete mental breakdowns. They used to be commonplace for the Olympian â€” at every meet, before she swam the 400m individual medley.
â€œThe event freaks me out so bad,â€ Margalis said of a race labeled the decathlon of swimming for its grueling, all-around test. â€œI wish it didnâ€™t. People are like, Mel, youâ€™re so good. Iâ€™m like, you donâ€™t understand what it does to me.â€
Margalis, a 28-year-old who trains at the University of Georgia, finally overcame the block in recent months with the help of a sports psychologist.
On March 6, Margalis took 2.97 seconds off her personal best in the four-and-a-half-minute event at the last meet before the coronavirus pandemic halted sports. She improved from the fifth-fastest American in the 400m IM since the start of 2019 to No. 1 by a whopping 2.94 seconds. Sheâ€™s now fourth-fastest in the world in that span.
â€œI wasnâ€™t scared of whatÂ couldÂ happen,â€ she said of her mindset at the meet in Des Moines. â€œI wasnâ€™t letting myself be scared of what could happen if I tried to have a good race.â€
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