5 Training Milestones That Kick a Metric Ton of Butt

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.

Yes, training is hard. It’s tough. It will stretch, prod and challenge you physically, emotionally and mentally.

But with all of that comes a massive pile of goodness. You learn to expect more from yourself. You set and exceed targets and goals. You expand your limits. And ultimately you leave the pool more capable, confidant, and tougher.

Here are 5 moments that we all get to celebrate over the course of training our posteriors off in our local chlorinated water hole:

1. That moment when you realize you are getting in shape.

During the first couple weeks and months of the season most of us are getting pummeled at the pool. We took our time off during the summer quite literally, doing nothing but eating fig bars and Doritos by the case while sitting by the pool and not getting into it.

The break was nice – getting back into shape? Not so much.

But after that first glorious practice where you don’t feel like you got run over by a truck, where you can walk on your own two feet, when you can actually tell yourself that you look forward to the next workout… Yeah, that moment is nice.

2. Discovering that extra gear at the end of a set.

Despite swimming being about as measurable a sport as it gets in terms of measuring progress, we don’t always see the improvements that we are making. We are locked inside of the bubble, deprived of a bird’s eye view of the whole of our training, so it is difficult for us to appreciate that the work is paying off.

But every so often, you will be working through a tough main set when you discover that you have a brand new gear, a little extra thrust in your kick and pull that you didn’t have the day before. Your walls are a little crisper. Your pull fuller. Your feet catch the water.

You take that new gear out and crush it, because, well, you earned it.

3. Beating the kid who has been dusting you for years.

He or she always leads the lanes. Comes close to lapping you on the big main sets. Generally has the ear and attention of the coaches as they blitz through the assigned sets. It’s been that way as long as you can remember, and it’s simply the way it always has been, and always be.

But then one day you step up. Throw down. And outswim the big hotness on the team. You go head-to-head during the main set… and prevail.

You can’t help but have a little extra swagger in your strut at the end of the workout. Not only have you taken down someone you considered faster than you, but more importantly you have expanded your mental horizons to believe that it is possible, opening you up to take more shots at exceeding your expectations in the future.

4. The time you almost beat your PB in practice.

I have always had a bit of envy for swimmers who could do this. The closest I ever got was coming within a couple seconds of besting my 400 free time in practice once in what was basically meet like conditions (full lane ropes, no one else in the pool, and second practice after a full taper-shave).

Whether you consider yourself a practice swimmer or a race-time performer, there are fewer things more encouraging and motivating than beating a best time in practice. The best time doesn’t have to be for a race that you compete in either – crushing your 200 free kick time provides nearly the same jolt of hope and motivation.

Perhaps the most reassuring part of beating your best time in workout is knowing the beating that you are going to unleash on that race come meet time.

5. Seeing the progress you are making outlined in cold, hard numbers.

Every so often coach will toss up one of her favorite test sets on the board. Having been a few weeks since the last time you did it, you tell yourself not to expect too much. But then the set gets underway, and you not only start beating your previous results, you start absolutely hammering on them.

There are fewer things more encouraging or inspiring than seeing those results side-by-side on paper or on the whiteboard. It’s a feeling of redemption, of knowing that your hard work, dedication and commitment to the training is paying off.

About YourSwimBook

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.

NEW: We now have motivational swimming posters. Five of ’em, actually.

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40 Flat
6 years ago

I was kid that goes almost best times in practice in a speedo and would go the same thing in a meet while fully tapered in a tech suit. Depressing.

Cindy Arnold
9 years ago

We need you to come speak to our high school swim. Team. You are really correct about summer and getting in shape from high school swim. We have a co open team and neither of our schools have a swimming pool.The girls spend most of the time on a bus. They really try so hard. They won coconference at all levels last year. This yearwe had about 10 girls gegraduate and now really starting over at the bottom. Its tough to motivate them.

9 years ago

You’re not getting enough love. You’re hammering these posts. You’re a great writer and you’re totally encompassing the essence of swimming. Keep up the great work.

40 Flat
Reply to  Dude
6 years ago


9 years ago

Yes to all of these!!!! Yet another great post!

About Olivier Poirier-Leroy

Olivier Poirier-Leroy

Olivier Poirier-Leroy has been involved in competitive swimming for most of his life. Starting off at the age of 6 he was thrown in the water at the local pool for swim lessons and since then has never wanted to get out. A nationally top ranked age grouper as both a …

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