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We all have our own reasons for strapping on the swimsuit and diving into the waters of our local neighborhood pool. For some, it’s the aspiration of repping our country on the world stage. For others, it is to swim beyond high school in the collegiate ranks. And for others, it’s a means of fitness, a place to Zen out, a way to get and stay in shape.
Regardless of where you land on the scale of ambition, the swimmers who perform consistently in the pool are able to do so because they wield motivation routinely and habitually.
What follows are 7 habits that your local motivated swimmer employs in order to keep him or herself on track.
Put them in place for yourself and become not only a more motivated athlete, but more consistent in your training, and most importantly for most of you, a faster swimmer.
1. They set different kinds of goals.
Every swimmer in the pool has things they hope to accomplish with their time spent lapping back and forth and around the black line. The motivated swimmer has those big, lofty goals, but also understands the importance of creating smaller, short term objectives and goals.
In fact, where motivated swimmers shine brightest is by setting goals and objectives within their training—things like specific stroke rates, doing a specific number of kicks off each wall, breathing patterns, or in-practice best times.
They understand that these ultra short term goals are perfect for keeping them focused and motivated during the session and training cycle at hand.
2. They focus on the things that matter most.
Ever written out a goal plan that was full of things that produced little in the way of tangible results?
Like: Pack bag. Tie shoes. Remember water bottle.
While these things might be necessary and essential, doing these things fill us with a false sense of accomplishment, often replacing the things that we truly need to do in order to get us closer to our goals.
Things like giving a top-flight effort in practice. Showing up every day to workout. Doing pre-hab for our swimmer’s shoulder every single day.
When you throw together a plan for crushing your goals this season see beyond the maintenance tasks and zero in on the growth aspects of your training.
3. They keep their commitments.
Want an easy way to deflate confidence and stall momentum when you need it most?
Waffle and flake on the things you say you will do. If you make a commitment to yourself that you will make every practice this month do what it takes to hold that promise.
Personal integrity matters more than most swimmers care to realize.
After all, when you habitually break the commitments and promises you make with yourself it breeds a self-identity that demonstrates that you are not reliable. That you can’t trust yourself with goals big or small.
4. They know that motivation comes from acting.
There is painfully common belief that motivation should always precede the act.
In other words, that you must be fully and utterly jacked up and primed to give an awesome effort.
Motivated swimmers know that motivation doesn’t come from thinking about doing the things you want to do, it comes from doing the things you want to do.
So this means habitually taking the first step, routinely taking action in the face of apathy and doubt.
Where action goes, motivation follows.
5. They know excellence requires a thousand swings.
You don’t cut down an oak tree with a dozen wild and full effort swings.
You show up every day, take a few solid cracks at it, and then come back the next day. Little by little, meter by meter, you work away at it consistently and dutifully over time.
Managing your expectations and being patient enough to know that your hard work today will pay off down the road is tough.
However, when you understand that getting really good at something requires a consistent and daily investment of quality reps, than you are less likely to become discouraged when your unrealistic expectations don’t come to pass.
A tool that top swimmers and athletes use to insure that they are getting their “small wins” in on a daily basis is the plain old workout log. Journaling your workouts means that you can stay on top of showing up and being that consistent athlete daily.
6. They enjoy the day to day work of getting better.
Tell me if you have experienced this scenario before:
Burning with confidence you set yourself a monstrously ambitious goal.
You know you have the talent. You have the support system in place. And you have the work ethic.
Off you go, plodding along for a month or two, showing up when it counts, and doing the little things right outside of the pool in order to support your goals.
After a few months of top-notch effort you go to a meet, hoping to get close to that mark you’ve set for yourself, only to come up far short.
The realization becomes painfully clear…
You’ve reached the top of what ends up only being a small hill to see that there is a far greater mountain to be climbed ahead of you if you hope to achieve that fantastic goal.
Is this moment humbling? For sure. Discouraging? To some, absolutely.
But it should also be the exact moment where you realize that you are going to have to love what you are doing on a daily basis.
And by love I don’t mean be falsely optimistic; but loving the process of improving in increments and having a taste for challenging and pushing yourself daily.
7. They find motivation in doing it better.
If you take two swimmers who are prescribed the exact same amount of meters, same number of practices, and are the same age and size, can you reasonably expect that they will perform identically in competition?
Of course not.
Small technical differences would make a distinction. And the average effort given would snowball to create a sizable disparity between the two swimmers over time.
In other words, while our two swimmers in this example might be performing the same number of meters, one is inevitably going to do it better than the other.
We are all given the same opportunities, more or less. It’s what we do with them that matters most.
It’s easy to want to crave more opportunities. To want better equipment. Higher performing supplements. These “if-only’s” are common.
At the end of the day the self-driven swimmer finds motivation and confidence in doing it better with the opportunities given to them than the swimmer in the next lane.
Don’t fall for the illusion that motivation is something that just happens to us. You are the muse to your inspiration. And if you are serious about your swimming, about exploring the depths of your potential in the water, you will need to cast aside the misconception that you need to be motivated to take progress.
So take the first step.
Do it a little bit better.
Do it with consistency and courage, and you will find yourself well on your way to achieving comical levels of success in the water.
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.
NEW: It now also comes with a 76-page mental training skills eBook called “Dominate the Pool.” It is free with your purchase of YourSwimBook and is emailed to you within 24 hours of your order.