7 Things Swimmers Should Start Doing

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.

As George Bernard Shaw said, “Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.”

No doubt.

How often have you found yourself caught in a loop of doing the same things, having the same behaviors, displaying the same attitudes, and yet still expecting different results? If you are like me, a few times.

Change is foreign, difficult, and requires us to remove ourselves from our comfort zone and the outlooks and mindsets we have developed over the years.

Here are 7 things swimmers can start doing in order to inflict some change this season:

SEE ALSO: 5 Motivational Swim Posters to Inspire You

1. Face the tough stuff head on.

We all have those sets that intimidate the draw strings out of our swimsuits. We squirm and are swamped with dread each time coach throws it up on the board. Whether it is a test set, a long rep for time, or all out efforts that will give you an indication of how much (or how little) progress we have made. The only way to attack those big, scary sets is inch-by-inch, meter-by-meter. Avoid thinking about the set as a whole and focus on the rep in front of you, and you’ll find yourself more willing to give those tough sets an honest thrashing.

2. Spend time with the right people.

Life is far too short to spend it with people who complain, who berate, who naysay and live to shoot down the aspirations of others. The path to success – whatever your version of success in the pool is – is not easy, and it is made infinitely harder when you surround yourself with people who have no interest in seeing you flourish as an athlete and as a person.

3. Be honest about where you are at and where you want to go.

Take a few moments and be honest about where you are at as a swimmer, and what you would like to do with your abilities and talents. Once you have a solid understanding of who you are, what your strengths and opportunities for improvement are, you will be better equipped to choose a path which will showcase your own particular brand of awesomeness.

4. Be willing to forge your own path.

It’s easy to look at our idols, or even the elite swimmers that we train with on a daily basis, and want to copy their path to success. While there will be some similarities in what you need to do in comparison to what they are doing – hard work, consistency, and so on – be willing to find your own way, to forge your own path towards your individualized form of success.

5. Value your mistakes as much as your successes.

We grow from friction, from bouncing back from failures and setbacks. Victory, while undoubtedly sweeter, doesn’t always provide the same lessons that we get from coming up a little bit short. Instead of brushing aside those moments where things don’t go your way, pick them apart for lessons in where you can do things better in order to drive forwards with purpose.

6. Start seeing yourself as more capable.

We tend to place limits on what we think we are capable of, more often rather arbitrarily. Because we haven’t done something before means we cannot do it now. Because a particular interval was challenging means we can’t do an even faster one. Suspend your doubt and limitations long enough to try, and more often than not you will find that you surprise yourself.

7. Trust yourself to be okay.

Big goals scare the chlorine out of most swimmer’s hair. It’s not even necessarily the goals themselves that are intimidating, it’s the thought of giving it their absolute goal and then coming up short. It’s the failing part that is scary. But how many times in the course of your swimming and life have you failed, and yet you still came out of it? You survived then, and you’ll be okay in the future too, so have faith in your own resiliency.

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. Learn 8 more reasons why this tool kicks butt.

NEW: We now have motivational swimming posters. Five of ’em, actually.

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6 years ago

Same fluff article swimswam posts every week.

Natalie Whalen
8 years ago

Hey swim swam! This article helped me a lot in thinking about my training but I have a question! You said to avoid thinking about the entire set but focus on the rep in front of you but how do I do that if the rep in front of me is very long (ex. trying to go as far as you can in 30 minutes)?

Reply to  Natalie Whalen
8 years ago

Hi Natalie,

A few thoughts on this (these are my personal opinion, and different coaches have different philosophies):

1) most programs only do T-30’s on occasion, as a test set. Given that the goal of it is to test the other training you’ve done, then you should be focusing on just doing everything with the same intensity every time. The focus for a T-30 should be maintaining perfect technique. You can develop really bad habits swimming for 30-minutes non-stop if you’re not really hyper-focused on your technique.

2) If your team does them regularly as training, and not just as a test, then the coach should be giving you a strategy. There should be some correlation to race preparation.

8 years ago

wow, this pic brought back memories of sad and difficult times, as well as some very happy times before the ax dropped.

8 years ago

It’s always worth saying again, and being mad, AGAIN:
UMD made a terrible decision!
Maryland: the home state of Michael Phelps and Katie Ledecky, Anita Nall, Chase Kaliscz, Beth Botsford, Jack Conger…

Maryland: home of the two largest USA programs in the USA (>half of NCAP and RMSC) as well as NBAC, so they can’t claim there isn’t home-grown talent! And, come on! Recruiting on the east coast from Richmond up through DC, Baltimore, Philly, NYC is like shooting fish in a barrel.

UMD: the pool is at least as good as most of their former conference pools (UVA, UNC, NCSU, Duke), and at least as good or better than their current conference pools (Penn State, Illinois, Nebraska,… Read more »

Gina Rhinestone
Reply to  BaldingEagle
7 years ago

Perhaps you need to differentiate between DC- Maryland & Maryland proper. Perhaps those who work/ school in DC as against those who’s livelihood is earnt in Maryland . ( also a state taxation issue) .

Of al the comments I have ever heard of ppl wishing for excision or even annihation of DC , i don’t think they mean Maryland .

Gina Rhinestone
Reply to  Gina Rhinestone
7 years ago

Anhilation . Hey I don’t often write that word thankfully .

8 years ago

Ouch! Every past Terp swimmer who saw this just got hit in the gut. I hope all the big money they get from joining the big 10 can bring back our program.

Reply to  Vince
8 years ago

Vince – good. I haven’t seen anyone pissed off in public about Maryland getting cut in a while. Maybe this will activate the alumni-base again.

(On a side-note: Olivier is Canadian, and thus the Maryland being cut thing isn’t something in the forefront of his mind. He looks for good swimming pictures that look like swimmers doing something well.)

Laurie albert
8 years ago

Such a shame about the UMD swim and dive programs.

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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