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. Sign up for the YourSwimBook newsletter (free) and get weekly motivational tips by clicking here.
We have never met, but I am willing to bet that we share something in common. Two things, in fact. The first is that we have both spent some time over the course of late December plotting out a resolution for the New Year. The second is that we have both spectacularly failed at keeping most, if not all of them.
Make this the year that you keep your resolution. The one where you don’t just talk about the rad stuff you want to accomplish in the pool, but actually stick to your word and follow through with it.
With that in mind, listed below are a few ideas for helping you craft resolutions that you keep this year:
1. No pulling on the lane rope. I could not be more guilty of this one. I have cut my fingers numerous times on lane ropes that were chipped and jagged, and yet, I go back for more. I’ll learn, maybe, someday. But probably not.
2. Be less of a grouch during practice. Each swimmer has their own facial expression and demeanor when they are neck deep in a difficult set. Some get angry, some get hysterically giddy, while others resort to cursing under their breath at the end of each repeat. “Think positive” isn’t just an overused cliché—the way we phrase our thoughts has a real effect on how you actually feel.
3. Make this the year you go injury-free. Injuries stink, and the smelliest of them all are the chronic ones. The ones you know are coming, that are always just peering around the corner, waiting for you to get lax on your pre-hab and stretching. Vow to be more consistent with your pre-hab, and go a step further by learning as much as you can about your injuries so that you can get a better understanding of why they happen and become more inclined to act to ward off futures flare-ups.
SEE ALSO: How to Prevent Swimmer’s Shoulder
4. Get in the habit of being more grateful. It’s easy to grow to despise the lifestyle of a competitive swimmer, especially over the winter months. Two-a-days, missed social opportunities, and never ending hypoxic sets (oooh I rue thee so) can all cloud out the things we are super grateful for. Each night pull out your log book/journal/book of secrets, and write out a couple things you are grateful for.
5. Sleep more! Now this is a resolution that I am sure a lot of you can get behind. Sleep plays a huge factor in helping you recover from your workouts, and, well, it’s easy! Just lay there, and close your eyes and stuff. The hard part is finding time to do it, and requires you making a commitment to going to bed a little earlier and ignoring the bedroom eyes your cell phone, tablet, and Netflix are giving you.
6. Straighten out your stroke imbalance. Many swimmers suffer from stroke imbalances that come naturally from being right or left hand/arm dominant. Things like bilateral breathing, swimming with a snorkel, or doing kick on your off side with one arm out to improve body position (while getting you used to swimming on that side) can help edge you towards having a more balanced stroke.
7. Stop peeing in the pool. I’ve had coaches in the past who were unwilling to let us out of the pool unless our faces were blanched and registered the expression—“Look, I gotta go, man!”—there was no way we were getting out to “just” pee. So I understand that for many swimmers out there this resolution will be hard to keep.
8. Start and/or end every workout with a perfect dive. If you are like me, my practice-opening dive is either—a) run halfway down the pool deck and launch myself into the water, or typically—b) quasi-bellyflop into the pool. As a result our dives don’t get the TLC they need until dives are explicitly worked in during workout, or in the days leading up to competition. Sure, one or two dives a day might not sound like a lot, but the consistency will add up over time, and because you are doing so few of them it should encourage you to focus on making them as excellent as possible.
9. Start journaling your workouts. Recording your workouts is a good time. You pick up valuable intel over the course of your training, it provides a few therapeutic moments of reflection after your workouts, and also gives you a record of progression that should pump your tires and keep you motivated to return to the pool each day.
10. Make all of your morning practices. Although I hated the whole getting up super early part, I always enjoyed morning swims. Rarely did AM sessions elicit a 100% attendance rate, so as a result there was more pool space to go around. Besides, it’s kinda nice at that time of day. The rest of the world is sound asleep (including the competition, hopefully!) while you are crushing main sets like they owe you money.
11. Each day encourage a youngster on the team. Believe it or not, the younger kids look up to you. Seriously. You’re older, cooler, and get to swim in the faster group. You don’t need to be a world record holder to influence the swimming and the lives of younger swimmers on your team. Each day spend a few minutes working with a younger athlete on the team. Not only will it remind you why you fell in love with the sport to begin with, it will make their day.
12. Finish the warm-down. Beyond the active recovery aspect of warming down, I’ve always found that once you start cutting corners in areas of your workout that seem trivial it becomes easier to cut corners on the main sets as well. You should be committed to being an absolutist in this regard. Do the set as prescribed, and remember that the way you do anything is the way you do everything.
13. Work on the thing you keep telling yourself you suck at. We all have those holes in our swimming, those weaknesses we avoid at all costs. We tell ourselves that we don’t have time for it, and don’t want to work on it because we simply don’t like it. The funny thing is that we tend to have a strong distaste for the things we aren’t good at, right up until the point that we become good at it. And then we love it, and wonder how we ever went so long without it in our lives. Whether it is your bilateral breathing, your breaststroke kick, or your backstroke starts, work on ‘em until they get traded to the strength column.
14. Do ten minutes of extra vertical kicking after workout. Want to set your underwater dolphin kick apart from the competition? Spend a few extra minutes after workout doing some vertical kicking. Strap on some fins for added resistance to mix it up. With consistent application it won’t take long to see the results of this minor investment in time.
15. Lead the lane more often. Don’t be afraid to rise to the occasion. Cruising in the middle of the group, or even towards the end of the lane might be comfortable and safe, but it’s not going to help you swim any faster. Stepping up and taking responsibility for leading the lane means you have to pay attention to the set (a good thing) lest you lose count of laps or repeats, and the little bit of pressure of knowing the rest of the lane is trying to chase you down will push you to give a good effort.
16. Align your lifestyle with your goals. You work exceptionally hard in the pool, fine tuning your Ferrari of a swimmer’s body with an endless number of meters and deliberate focus on form, so why do you make it harder on yourself by treating your body like a bumperless 1994 Dodge Shadow? By fueling yourself properly, staying hydrated, and managing the erryday stresses of life, you will allow yourself to more consistently perform at the peak of your abilities.
17. Reward yourself. Marking the small victories that litter our respective journeys makes the long haul of the season exceptionally more enjoyable. You don’t need to wait until you drop ten seconds in your 200 IM to recognize that what you are doing is awesome. Make every practice that week? High five! Did 5 dolphin kicks off every wall for a full workout? Booyeah! Didn’t use 6 arm pulls into each wall during the main kick set? I can respect it! Celebrate the victories and treat yourself, and you will find that you will become ever more eager to seek out continued improvement.
What is your New Years Resolution going to be for 2015? Which of the above swimming tips will you incorporate into your training? Let me hear it in the comments below.
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. Learn 8 more reasons why this tool kicks butt.
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