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.
Swimmers at the top of the podium all share one remarkably unremarkable trait.
No, it’s not superhuman talent. Or genetics. Or even the gift of that mysterious and elusive “feel for the water.”
It’s something a little more boring, not so mythical, but perhaps just as elusive for some athletes: these top achievers simply execute better than the rest.
You can have all of the talent and physical gifts in the world, but if you can’t summon the will to put them to action they become useless.
Here are 6 tips for becoming the type of swimmer who gets it done:
1. Accept that it will be messy.
How often have you stumbled out of the gate and then thrown away the whole process because “if it doesn’t go exactly how I plan, than it’s not working”?
If you set your standards or your expectations at “perfect” than you will never start.
There will be false starts. There will be stumbles. You’ll have great days and workouts, and then you’ll have not so great practices.
Once you can accept that the process is messy and even bruise-inducing at times, than you can more easily power through those not-so-great sessions.
SEE ALSO: 5 Core Exercises for Swimmers
2. Comparisons are dangerous.
We all have our idols in the sport. We look up to them and do our best to reverse-engineer their success.
“Oh, she swam 12 times per week for three years prior to her gold medal winning performance in London? I’ll do that too.”
We seek to learn how those swimmers put together their success so that we can fashion a blueprint of our own.
But it’s important to remember that the things that they are doing now might not necessarily be the same things they were doing at the beginning of their own journey.
3. Bite-sized steps will do.
The bigger a goal is, the more intimidating it becomes. And while big goals are great to inspire and guide us, the sheer size of them numbs us into inaction.
If you are finding yourself getting hung up into not acting because you simply have no idea how you will ever submit yourself to all of the work your towering goal requires, step back and look down at the very first step you need to make. A step so small, so non-threatening that it almost seems trivial.
4. Big dreams alone don’t bring success.
Planning and dreaming is easy. It’s enjoyable. And it comes with no risk. What does it cost you in terms of effort to daydream about what you’d like to achieve as a swimmer? Not much.
Goals and mega-aspirations are important, but thinking and wishing for them won’t make them so. An average goal acted on will always result in more success than a hundred exceptional dreams.
5. Earn the reps.
We yearn for progress and results, but often we get so caught up in them that we ignore the day-to-day grind. And then when we are reminded of the hard work that is going to be required, we are dismayed, put off, discouraged.
Forget the goals for a moment. They aren’t completely in your control and nor are the circumstances (i.e. other swimmers). Instead, focus your mental and physical energy on the daily reps.
The biggest payoff from banging out the reps consistently is that you are launching yourself into a feedback loop where you are learning what works, what doesn’t, and applying those lessons moving forwards. Sitting around musing on the perfect way to go about moving forward robs you of this.
6. Don’t wait for perfect conditions.
This is a crutch that I have leaned on during many an occasion; the old “I will really start training hard when I can train in a new facility/get that new suit/learn more about sprint technique…etc.”
Obsessing over what you consider to be perfect conditions or the ultimate strategy or environment to achieve your goals is one of your brain’s sneaky ways of avoiding hard work.
Just start. It might not be perfect, look pretty, or even feel all that great, but do the thing that matters and start.
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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