The season of a swimmer is not for the feint of heart. There are turns, twists, wins, defeats, and about 9 kajillion more turns over the course of our longer-than-average season.
1. Do something today with your swimming that your tomorrow self will thank you for.
Make today the day that you punch procrastination square in the mouth and take that step. That first step doesn’t have to make the earth rumble, but it should shake you from the chains of inaction and get you moving forward.
2. Don’t be afraid of discomfort. That friction is what causes growth.
Living in our comfort zone is easy. It’s safe. It’s manageable.
But the punishing side-effects of staying within well-defined boundaries is that we neglect the opportunity to stretch our abilities and talents. We refuse ourselves the chance to see what we can do in the pool. Be willing to challenge yourself, to reach for the outer limits of your comfort zone and beyond.
3. The only set of perfect conditions are the ones you exist in right now.
How many times have you set out to do something special with your swimming only to violently pump the brakes because you didn’t have enough information? Or the training facilities weren’t what you considered adequate? Or that you didn’t have the right equipment?
Don’t allow the conditions of your environment to define your attitude and preparation. Make the most of what you have at your disposal at this very moment, and remember that there is elite swimming happening in worse conditions than you are experiencing at this moment (and we know all about this at GIS!!)
4. Don’t worry about showing up on race day. Focus on showing up today.
Having goals is a big part of being successful. Without that compass giving you direction how are we to know where we are going? The problem is when we focus exclusively on the outcome and neglect the things we have to do in the meanwhile to get there.
Concentrate on making each and every day in the pool the best you can make it. String together a series of unreal workouts so that when you do step up on the blocks on race day the battle will already have been won.
5. Comparison-making is a powerful thief of motivation. Unleash your mental energy upon your swimming alone.
Swimming is a competitive sport, so yes, how you perform (a.k.a. place) is partly based on the other 7 swimmers in the pool with you. But guess what? You cannot control how those athletes swim. How they prepare. How they invest their time in and out of the pool.
Worrying about how others swim and train, how good they look during their prelims swim, how they prepare, takes your eyes off what matters – how you prepare, you you swim and train, and how you swim during prelims.
6. You are capable of so much more than you think is possible with your swimming.
How many times have you thought long and hard about a goal, but then came to the conclusion that it was unattainable? Or that you weren’t good enough? Or not deserving enough?
Successful swimmers have an abundance of self-belief. They know that if they put their heads down and work diligently that good things will happen. How good? Sky’s the limit.
7. Don’t let the ill-informed opinions of others dictate how you swim.
Having a friend or parents scoff when you tell them about your goals can be a sobering moment. Worse yet, having a coach or other supposedly informed authority figure tell you that your dream is fantasy can be deflating bordering on utterly demoralizing.
A favorite motivational tactic of many an elite swimmer – including Mr. Phelps – was the “I’m gonna show ‘em!” Use the nay-saying and the doubt to catapult you forwards with fire and determination in your eyes. Embrace the haters, allow them to stoke the fire in your belly, and do everything you can to achieve your goal while simultaneously proving them wrong.
8. In things big and small, always do your best.
How you do the small, seemingly irrelevant things – paying attention to technique in warm up, stretching correctly before jumping in the pool – is almost always a mirrored reflection of how you do the big things.
By doing the small things correctly and with pride, you will find that you start doing the big things in the same manner. Wherever you are in your swimming, you owe it to yourself to do it well.
9. Nobody believes your excuses. Not even you.
Making excuses has the opposite intended effect – we like to think that it covers up our mistakes, make us feel like we are still invincible and in control, but in reality it forces you to relinquish control of your swimming.
By making excuses you are letting go of accountability, letting go of the recognition that your swimming is ultimately completely yours. For some swimmers, this thought scares the chlorine out of them. It shouldn’t. The moment you realize you have complete ownership and power of your swimming is a freeing one. No longer are you bound by the chains of what others say, do or think.