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Researchers sought to identify and analyze the actions of elite swimmers on a competition day that the athletes believed were critical to their success, and to understand the meaning the athletes assigned to each of these activities. The present study describes the competition-day routines of the elite swimmers by presenting the athletes’ actions, meanings, segments, and preparations within a substantive grounded theory. To this end, five U.S. Olympic medal-winning male swimmers from the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympic Games participated in a three-stage data collection: an initial interview during a two-day training visit, a competition observation at an elite meet, and a follow-up interview via telephone. In addition, each participant’s coach was interviewed. Utilizing constructivist grounded theory (Charmaz, 2006), a substantive theory of a competition-day routine for elite swimmers emerged. Results suggested that athletes understood all their actions during a competition day as one routine, and research of competitive routines should include both the ostensive (i.e., plan) and performative (i.e., enactment) aspects of routines (Feldman & Pentland, 2003).
Grant is with the Department of Kinesiology and Physical Education, Valdosta State University, Valdosta, GA. Schempp is with the Department of Kinesiology, University of Georgia, Athens, GA.