Olivier Poirier-Leroy is a former national level swimmer based out of Victoria, BC. In feeding his passion for swimming, he has developed YourSwimBook, a powerful log book and goal setting guide made specifically for swimmers. Join 1,800 of your fellow swimmers and coaches and sign up for the YourSwimBook newsletter (free) and get weekly motivational tips by clicking here.
It’s a New Year, and you know what that means, right?
You don’t? Not even you, you person sitting with the glowing screen ten inches from your face? Well, that got awkward.
Here’s a hint…
A New Year means New Years resolutions, also known as “Forced, Exorbitant and Ridiculous Promises You Make to Yourself Only to Feel Like a Demoralized Bag of Chumpiness When They Don’t Come to Pass.”
Yeah, those things.
Instead of making resolutions, how about we not-so-subtly change the name up to “goals” or “things” or “stuffs.” While I am not going to give you advice about your specific swimming goals, here are some ideas that will help you get towards your swimming “stuffs” faster this year—
1. Warm-up like a boss every day.
When you get your core warmed up, and your joints and muscles loosened up there really is no better feeling. One word of caution here, you will feel so amazing when you dive into the water, having been pre-pre-warmed up, that your body will wanna fly. Oh, and warming up tends to lead to less injuries, which is a nice little side bonus.
2. Unsuck at something.
We all have parts of our swimming that we resist doing because we feel like we aren’t as good at it. Whether it is butterfly, breaststroke kick, streamlining when you are tired, decide to tackle that suckiness with everything you got this year.
There are fewer things more rewarding than mastering (or at least significantly improving) something you previously felt inferior at.
3. Challenge yourself on the regular.
One of the best parts about swimming and sport is the ever-growing change of what we believe ourselves to be capable of. “10×100 on 1:10? No way.” And yet it’s barely two weeks later and you are doing them on 1:05.
This growing process gives you the warm and fuzzies in your belly, and I am not talking about the warm and fuzzies you get the next day after eating 500 grams of lunch meat at 2:14am in a sleep-hunger stupor. (I know I am not alone on this one… right?)
4. Share your goals, err, ”stuffs” with your coach.
Phelps wouldn’t have gotten where he was without Bowman, so don’t feel that you need to keep your goals to yourself. Our goals can be a weighty burden, so unload yourself a little bit and expound on your ambitions for the year with your coach. (Who is there to, like, help you out with these types of things.)
5. Be proactive about staying healthy.
You’ve probably noticed this before… After a sequence of tough workouts you feel a faint tickle in the back of your throat while your nose begins to go for a little jog. After a solid night of rest, however, you are back to normal, having narrowly dodged the cold/flu/SARS.
If you’re hunch was that you were on the breach of getting sick because you’re training your posterior off, you are correct. Megan Fischer-Colbrie wrote a good blog post over at Bridge Athletic which outlines the increased susceptibility high performance athletes face to illness when training over-time.
It can be challenging with all the commitments athletes have with school, swimming and what little of a social existence they have to properly take care of themselves. Generally swimmers begin cutting corners with things like sleep and diet when stressed or over-trained, putting them in a prime position to get sickie. Stay ahead of the sniffles by clocking in for a solid night of rest each night and fueling yourself properly.
6. Break down what it is going to take for you to swim faster this year.
What are you specifically going to have to do to achieve your goal? Writing down “work hard” is a step in the right direction, but ultimately, what does that mean? It’s way too vague and open to endless number of interpretations.
Split down your goal into meaningful, actionable chunks. “I need to improve my start by XYZ seconds. Here is what I am going to do to accomplish this: Do 10 timed dives at the end of practice on Monday and Wednesday, improve my jumping ability by XYZ, etc.”
7. Be an awesome teammate.
I feel the need to point out that being a rad teammate isn’t about being overly peppy and cheery all the time. In fact, you will find forcing that type of attitude will have the opposite desired effect. Make your support authentic, without being overbearing.
A simple, “Let’s do this” is more effective than ten minutes of “You can do it, Bob! You can do it, Tiff! Come on guys only nine more sets…”
8. Share your knowledge with the youngsters.
No matter where you are at with your swimming, there is someone that looks up to you. Unless you’re a baby. At which point you have other pressing things to deal with. Like drunkenly stumbling around while parents coo at you.
What? Anyways. The point is… There will always be kids that look up to you regardless of where you are in the swimming circle-of-life, so use your knowledge and experience and share it!
What are your goals and stuffs for this year? Share them in the comments below!
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