Yesterday marked 500 days to go until the swimming competition begins at the 2020 Summer Olympic Games, which means today marks 499 days to go. Tomorrow will mark 498 days to go. So why celebrate 499 days, instead of 500? When you’re in the grind with your eyes on the prize, there is no difference between 500, and 499, and 498, and 497. Our collective vision is fixed upon the horizon, and all we see is the golden disk of one more setting sun drawing us closer to the golden disks that the best-of-the-best will wear around their necks inn the summer of 2020.
Sleeping, eating, swimming, dryland-ing, recovering, fueling, swimming and sleeping some more is the daily routine for swimmers around the world chasing the Olympic dream and this sequence of events rarely changes this far out from an Olympic Games. In fact, one would argue that it is this consistency that indeed sets champions apart from would-be rivals, a lá Michael Phelps never missing a Sunday practice in the lead-up to the 2008 Games in Beijing.
Obviously athletes need to know the lead time and prepare their training regimens accordingly. But the point is that the daily grind and dedication to excellence is something that doesn’t suddenly kick-in out of nowhere as the countdown unfolds. As the storied hotbed of Olympic talent that is the University of Michigan has embossed on its Canham Natatorium, “It’s not every 4 years, it’s every day.”
The intensity grows, the passion renews, but champions and challengers alike simply keep it moving toward the one moment in time in which this unrelenting commitment is put to the ultimate test. Happy 499 days to go – crush your practice today.