7 Signs Your Hard Work in the Pool Is Starting to Pay Off

by Olivier Poirier-Leroy. Join 9,000+ swimmers and coaches who read his motivational newsletter last week by clicking here.

“A river cuts through rock not because of its power, but because of its persistence.” – Jim Watkins

Looking back on a successful block of training tends to fill us with a strong sense of pride and satisfaction.

We made (almost!) all of our morning workouts, held our target stroke counts—even at the tail-end of those challenging main sets, and lived the lifestyle outside of the pool that reflects the hard work we’ve been investing into our swimming.

Outside of swimming faster—which is the main return we seek—here are 7 other signs that your dedication in the pool is starting to pay off:

1. You find yourself being more supportive of the goals of others (because you’ve been there too).

A strange thing I have noticed over the years is that the swimmers who are most likely the ones to knock others down (or at least try to), are the ones who haven’t done anything. The ones who struggle to get started, who make excuses not to fully commit, who look for any reason to feel superior compared to the swimmers in their group, particularly the ones who are trying to make meaningful progress with their swimming.

The most successful swimmers are often the ones who are the most supportive, the most generous with their time, and the most likely to want to pull you up rather than push you down.

You’ll notice this desire to pull others along with you as you swim up to the next level.

2. You don’t feel the sky-high buzz of motivation anymore, but rather, a calm confidence earned through the work you have invested.

Sure, you feel motivated—watching the hard work pay off tends to do that—but instead of that white-hot fire in your belly you had when you started, now you simply feel a steady burn of determination and confidence.

By the time it comes around to meet-time, you’re not as flooded with anxiety and nerves as in the past. You know you have done the work, done the required mileage and quality meters in order to perform faster than ever.

That calm, cool confidence isn’t something that some swimmers simply have—it is a product of the work.

3. You’ve gotten to the point you don’t need to explain your goals and plans.

You don’t feel the need to talk about your goals as much anymore because, well, now you’re living them.

Instead of waxing on and on about all the sweet stuff you want to accomplish in the water, you are doing the day-to-grind, allowing the work to speak for itself.

4. The person in the mirror is familiar and not at the same time.

You weren’t sure exactly what all your hard work would produce in terms of physical appearance, but now that things are changing it’s a fascinating and intoxicating feeling looking in the mirror at the new you.

You didn’t know exactly what it would feel like to be “that” swimmer—the one who showed up and kicked butt on a regular basis—but looking in the mirror you cannot help but feel satisfied at what you see.

5. You’re doing things in practice that once seemed impossible.

It’s pretty easy to think back to the beginning of the season when you were struggling to hold the assigned intervals for a particular set. Or the result from the timed 800 kick.

Comparing what you are doing now compared to then fills you with a solid sense of pride, and also helps you feel confidant at what lays ahead, in particular how you can expect to perform the next time a big-time competition comes around. After all, the expectations we have for competition are based off of the the way we perform in practice.

6. You realize you aren’t explaining what you want to do, but rather, are living out what you set out to do.

There is an incalculably large chasm between talking about the sweet stuff we want to accomplish in the pool, versus actually taking meaningful action to make them happen.

Talking about the things might make us feel superficially good and optimistic, but until we step forwards into actually living out the daily rituals and habits that produce excellence, the talk will always ring a little bit hollow.

7. You are becoming more aware of what it will take to achieve the things you want.

When we set out our goals for the season we are able to cobble together a guesstimate of what it will take to achieve them. But we will never truly know what is required of us to accomplish our goals until we actually put down a meaningful amount of hard work in the pool.

Perhaps the timeline to success is a little longer, perhaps a little shorter (best case!), but either way, you will never really know until you put together a block of hard work.

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7 years ago

These are nice, but…

I was hoping for some more quantitative (like #5) mixed in with the feeling stuff (qualitative). I tell swimmers to measure progress in subtleties… is it easier to keep that perfect stroke together for longer into the repeats… realizing that set they struggled with just 3 weeks ago feels easier tonight or that the repeats are ‘miraculously’ faster.

I pitch those b/c my goal is getting them to focus on subtleties – I want them attentive to their relationship with the water, constantly consciously feeling/thinking about what is going on and to remember.their.times.

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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