U.S. Olympic swimming coach Teri McKeever said on Sunday that the young athletes must learn to slow down while facing pressure from a competitive environment and social life.
"In the environment they are in - such a competitive environment and then the media hype, I think the ability to learn how to quieten it all, give yourself a break without going to social media but instead just slow down enough to listen to what is going on, it's important," said McKeever, who has coached 26 Olympians to 36 Olympic medals.
"You have got to take time to nurture that individual, not just the athlete or the student but that young person in yourself," she added. McKeever was an assistant coach of the USA women's team at the Athens 2004 and Beijing 2008 Olympic Games and then head coach of the team at London 2012. She is currently in her 27th season as head coach of the women's team at the University of California.
"It is about understanding your strengths and your weaknesses," she explained. "Understanding that you are going to have people who are better than you at some things and other things you are going to be better [at] than them. And that's ok."
The 56-year-old acknowledges that this has become harder in the digital age. "I tell the girls all the time that when I swam at a meet it wouldn't be until the end of the month when you got your Swimming World magazine that you saw what someone in Florida was doing and could have an idea of how you compared with other people," she said.
"Now you can find out instantaneously. People are even posting what they are doing in workouts." In order to combat this, McKeever urges all young athletes to take steps to look after their mental and physical health.
From taking her swimmers into the open sea to encouraging them to try Pilates and even dance classes, McKeever emphasizes complete care, in and out of competition. "One thing I am trying to get them to do right now is to embrace the idea of meditating a bit more, or mindfulness."