This little guy originally appeared over at YourSwimBook.com. Join Olivier’s weekly motivational newsletter for swimmers by clicking here.
Looking to make those big improvements this year?
Are you ready and willing to finally test the limits of your swimming and see how fast you can truly go?
Here is your playbook, your “Art of War,” your little list of 15 rules to achieve those monster swims:
1. Do things a little bit better every day.
It’s natural to want to make the big, drastic improvements. In reality, dropping big chunks of time off your best time doesn’t come from doing something right once, it comes from doing a whole bunch of little things right consistently.
2. The details matter.
It’s crazy to think how often races end up coming down to who kept their head down at the finish, or who had a slightly tighter streamline off that last wall. The way that you perform these seemingly innocuous aspects of your swimming in practice is the way you do them in competition, so don’t neglect them.
3. Remember that progress is rugged.
You are going to get banged up, challenged and bruised on your way to improving in the pool. Understanding that the process isn’t easy will serve you well in those moments of difficulty in the months ahead.
4. You’re tougher than you imagine.
Our limits are largely the construct of exaggerated beliefs and past experience. Remember the last time coach put up a set that you thought was impossible? And you ended up doing it? Yeah. That time. And the host of others as well. You are tougher than you give yourself credit for.
5. Surround yourself with swimmers who are doing it right.
Trying to level up your swimming is tough enough, doing it with teammates and friends who are content to swim in the waters of mediocrity is tougher. Choose the people you associate with carefully; all too often they are a reflection of you and eventually, your results.
6. Excellence requires full time effort.
Putting in the effort at the pool is one thing, but if you are sabotaging it by staying up late, eating poorly, and not taking care of yourself out of the pool, it waters down the hard work you are putting in.
7. Log your workouts in the pool.
Consistency over the course of a full swimming season is tough. There will always be distractions, setbacks, injuries and illness. Write out your workouts daily to keep yourself accountable and keep your intensity in practice elevated.
8. Keep it simple.
It’s always the simple things that make the biggest difference: attendance, work ethic, sleep habits. Master the fundamentals first, the things that make up 98% of your performance, and leave the other 2% for when you are crushing the basics.
9. Be grateful.
Yes, getting up at 5am for morning workouts isn’t the greatest. Nor is Hell Week or spending yet another weekend away from your friends from school. But swimming– and the myriad of benefits it will provide you from building character, consistency and toughness– is worth being grateful for.
10. Stop looking for reasons you can’t swim at an epic level.
The easiest thing to do is to look at something challenging or hard or that hasn’t been done before and say, “I can’t.” Instead, you should be asking, “Why not me?”
11. Master the process, master the results.
Big goals are great and necessary, they give us motivation and something to strive for. But a championship swimmer isn’t made on race day. They are forged in the day-to-day grind of falling in love with the process.
12. Don’t be afraid to fully commit.
Top level swimmers have insane levels of personal integrity. When they say that they are going to do something, that they are going to commit to a specific goal, they do it. A funny thing happens when you fully commit to something—your world seems to bend around it in order to make it come to fruition.
13. Be the teammate you want to have.
Some of my best memories from my age group swimming days aren’t necessarily the best times and records (though those were nice), it was the moments where an older swimmer lent a word of encouragement. Or when the team all got up to cheer for me. Those moments matter a lot more than you realize, so take the steps to be that teammate regularly.
14. Get the help you need.
Here’s a fun fact: you don’t need to struggle towards your goals on your own. Your coaches are there to provide not only technical assistance and programming guidance, but to help motivate you in times of struggle. Similarly with your parents. Share your goals with the people that matter. You don’t need to step into the arena alone.
15. Have fun.
Yes, this might come off as a little ridiculous. How can swimming 40k+ per week plus dry-land sound like fun? Well, improving is fun. Challenging your limits is fun. Pushing teammates to levels they never thought capable is fun. And yes, destroying those goals at the season is a whole metric ton of fun.
Ready to Take Your Swimming to the Next Level?
YourSwimBook is a log book and goal setting guide designed specifically for competitive swimmers. It includes a ten month log book, comprehensive goal setting section, monthly evaluations to be filled out with your coach, and more.
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