7 Things Swimmers Need to Know About Staying Motivated

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.

It’s not enough that we spend hours upon hours in the water endlessly testing the limits of our physical capabilities, we also need to subject ourselves to the mental tug-of-war that comes along with it.

Call it motivation, internal fortitude, guts, or whatever, we all struggle with it and our commitment to the sport from time to time. And it’s understandable—the swim season is a long grind and certainly not for the feint of heart. Between the two days, to the morning sessions that drag late into the afternoon at swim meets, swimming is a legit commitment.

Here are 7 myths you oughta stop believing when it comes to feeling motivated to train your butt off at the pool:

1. If I don’t feel motivated every day than obviously I don’t want it.

It’s assumed that if we truly want success, than motivation will show up on its own. And when it doesn’t, this clearly means that we don’t truly crave and deserve success in the pool.

The thinking becomes, “Well, today I don’t feel completely motivated to train hard, so obviously there is something wrong with me and I don’t deserve to achieve my goals.”

There will be dips in motivation; these are in fact quite natural. To be driving with excitement and enthusiasm every single day over all of those long swimming workouts is difficult to impossible to sustain; rather, during those moments where we feel the conviction to our goals slackening we should lean on our discipline and habits to carry us through.

2. I need other people to get me motivated.

Ultimately, the most powerful motivation is the one that comes from within you. Hands down.

If you are feeling perpetually down in the dumps, unmotivated, uninspired, than perhaps it is time to get in touch with your why.

Are you swimming every day for your parents? Your friends? Your coach? Because it’s the “right thing to do”? These reasons might help you through the occasional workout or two, but over the long term it will fail.

Discover the why for your swimming, and you will never need another pep talk from coach again.

3. I should only train when I am feeling motivated.

Feeling motivated is not a muse. It’s not something you should be waiting around for, waiting on, hoping that it shows up when you need it. Think of feeling motivated as a bonus, not a prerequisite.

If we all only trained when we felt like it, when we were suitably fired up, morning practices would have long ago gone extinct.

4. I need to be motivated before I can act.

Conventional thinking goes that you need to be motivated before you do something.

I can’t go to the gym or pool until I am amped up,” is a common refrain.

But what many successful swimmers understand is that while motivation won’t always show up, you can coax it out with a little bit of action.

Think back to the last time you went to practice feeling thoroughly unmotivated and still managed to get a good session in regardless? Sure, starting was a process, and coach nearly had to throw you in the pool to get you going, but once warm-up eclipsed, and your stroke began to feel crisp and strong, you noticed yourself getting into it.

Remember: motivation won’t always precede action, but it will almost always follow it.

5. Just writing out my goals is enough.

Ever since “The Secret” came out there has been a heavy interest in positive thinking, in that if we just think about something hard enough that the universe will provide it. And while optimism is a necessary function of grinding through the challenges on the way to your goals, this doesn’t mean it can be substituted for the work required to achieve them.

Without the day to day commitment to your goals, of showing up every day to practice and giving your best effort and maximizing the time spent in the water, they are just fantasies.

6. Everyone gets motivated the same way.

The reasons we all have for showing up to the pool at 5:45am on a cold Wednesday morning are as varied as the reasons that we push through those challenging main sets. What motivates one swimmer won’t work for another.

There are common strands that unify swimmers; wanting to achieve a personal best, to win, and so on, but the “why” each swimmer has is unique.

What works for your teammates might not necessarily work for you, so be willing to search out the things that will push and drive you forwards.

7. I’m not a naturally motivated swimmer, so I am screwed.

We’ve all trained with those swimmers who are perpetually amped. You know who they are—they arrive to practice with a belly full of fire, which makes our lesser motivation levels pale in comparison. (“What’s wrong with me? See, I don’t deserve it.”)

There really is no such thing as a naturally motivated athlete—those who appear fired up on a regular basis have simply tapped into what makes them passionate about the sport. We all have the potential to be that driven athlete, you simply need to start with what makes you passionate about the sport.

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.

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.

Click here to learn more about YourSwimBook and get your mental training on track!

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5 years ago

Thanks SwimSwam, nice way to get us Nitro parents fired up for upcoming South Texas AG Champs this weekend in San Antonio, by putting a Nitro swimmer on the picture. And look at that high elbow set up! Fast time coming this weekend in the Alamo town.

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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