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.
No matter our best intentions and motivations, inevitably we will face droughts in our swimming. Whether it is a long bout of training becoming inexorably draining, out-of-the-pool stuff becoming a distraction, or a complete and utter loss of focus, it is natural to experience drops in motivation over the marathon that is a swim season.
Whether you are a baby-faced age-grouper or an international contender it happens to the best of us. The difference between those that are able to plow through with a minimal amount of loss of momentum and the swimmer who allows a short term drop in motivation to become a long term problem is that top performing swimmers don’t allow those lapses to derail their broader goals.
If you feel like you have let yourself down, or lost focus and direction, take a breath and relax. While ruts and hiccups are inevitable, they aren’t fatal, and they certainly don’t need to be permanent.
Here are 5 ways to get your focus and motivation back:
1. Reflect on what you want from your swimming.
It can be easy to get lost in the routine of competitive swimming. You go to the pool, swim back and forth for ours on end, go to school, go back to the pool, then go home and promptly pass out. The following morning you wake up and do the same thing. Over and over again. The routine eventually starts to numb and wear you down until you start to wonder what the point of it all is. It’s precisely at moments like this that you need to sit down and revisit your goals.
One of the more helpful ways you can do this is to sit down with your workout journal. Katie Ledecky rather pointedly used this simple tool to not only help her better communicate with her coach, but she also used it to help her stay motivated and on track with her goals.
2. Engage yourself by mixing up your goals.
On Sunday night, as you think of the week to come, imagine what you want to improve in your swimming. It’s not enough to just go to the pool and bang out the sets as is, you should be seeking to improve yourself within those sessions. For example, one week you could pay specific attention to your breakouts. Or vow to spend an extra ten minutes after practice working on your leg flexibility. Giving yourself these micro-goals will help you continue progressing towards that big, awesome goal at the end of the tunnel and keep you focued and engaged on your swimming. Additionally, when you complete those micro-goals, you get a little jolt of motivation that will compound as the weeks pile up and you see the accumulated improvement.
3. Focus on the things that will make the biggest difference.
The surest recipe for failure is trying to do too much. Instead of doing a lot of things at half-pace and achieving half the results, pour all of your energy and focus into the things that will have the most impact on your swimming.
What are the 3-4 things that will impact your swimming the most? Is it your mental game? Your nutrition habits? Breathing patterns? Your turns? Seek out your “game changers” and hammer them into submission.
4. Make the most of what you have.
One of the great characteristics of successful swimmers (and people!) is that they are able to squeeze the most out of whatever circumstances they are given. In university I trained at a pool that was treated with bromine. If you’ve never swam in a pool that is treated with bromine, consider yourself lucky. The first few times I caught a mouthful of pool water my whole body wretched. It tasted awful. But that was the hand I was dealt, and I vowed to make the best of it despite the nasty pool water.
5. Embrace your journey.
Society is always forcing comparisons and standards on us. Commercials tell us that we should dress a certain way, look a certain way, be a certain way. This homogenous pressure robs us of something that is truly valuable – our individuality. This is no different with our goals and swimming journey. The path we take should be utterly and completely our own. Not your coaches, not your parents, not the swimmer in the lane next to you. Yours.
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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