7 Things Your Swim Coach Wants You to Know

by Olivier Poirier-Leroy. Join his weekly motivational newsletter for competitive swimmers by clicking here.

Your swim coach will wear a lot of hats over the course of your swimming career. Teacher. Counselor. Friend.

They will be there when you achieve your highest of highs, and also be there to see you at your most struggliest. From your first DQ, to completing your first 400 IM, to winning state, to winning gold on the international stage.

In the midst of all of this, here are just 7 of the things that your swim coach would like to remind you of:

1. Sometimes a bad practice is just that, a bad practice. Nothing more, nothing less. Bashing ourselves over a poor performance—when all of the circumstances seem to have predicted a solid workout—can only do you so much good. Don’t let them infect your next workout or your attitude moving forward.

2. There will always be someone faster. Just like there will always be someone slower. The sport is a constant flux of swimmers on the rise and the decline. Appreciate the moments where you are at the top.

3. What you do every day matters more than what you do at meets. One of the most rewarding parts of swimming is the development of mental toughness, of learning how to be consistent, and how to steadily chip away at a goal. These are all things that you will develop over the course of your practice career.

4. Take it a step at a time. Having big goals is great. And necessary if you aspire to do big things with your swimming. But they shouldn’t be the over-arching focus of your day-today activity in the pool. Focus on the next step, the next improvement. Instead of getting overwhelmed and frustrated when you aren’t seeing a 5 second drop in your 100, focus on dropping that next second. And then the one after that.

5. That being said, dream big. You are capable of far more than you give yourself credit for. You are tougher than you think. If there are things you feel in your gut you could achieve, why not chase them? The question is not whether can you do something great, it is— “Will you?”

6. Exceptions beget exceptions. Ever notice how when you start to make exceptions for one part of your swimming (“Oh, I’ll just pull on the lane rope during warm up.”) it becomes much easier to create and accept exceptions in other areas? Set standards for yourself, create boundaries, and adhere to them.

7. It’s okay to struggle. When we have our goals lined up an expectation grows in our mind that all we have to do at this point is show up and tick all the boxes. As though our goals in the pool are set to auto-pilot, and we can sit back and enjoy a bump-free ride. Inevitably things happen to shake us off-course, whether it is an injury, illness, or we simply didn’t anticipate how much work would actually be required to level up. In these moments it is okay to be annoyed and frustrated with the process, but it’s most important to remember to fight back.

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6 years ago

These are great concepts for sports or other areas of life to apply.

6 years ago

#3 with an exclamation mark!

Roll Tide!
6 years ago

best article yet 🙂 🙂 🙂 As MND said above, you can use all the concepts on this list and apply them to life in general.

6 years ago

Number 7….. I was supposed to compete this upcoming weekend at my very last USA Swimming sanctioned meet ever but I’m still not healed from my surgery. It makes me sad but I’ve been swimming for the past 14 or 15 years. Plus, at my last home meet, which was the weekend prior to surgery, I placed first in all 5 of my events. So, I guess that’s a good way to end my USA Swimming career!!

2 years ago

Forgot one. A bad race or meet does not define you. It happens to everyone when you are practicing hard or even just because.

The Importer AND Exporter
1 year ago

I wish my kids’ swim coach would want my kids to know even one of these.

Ol' Longhorn
1 year ago

#8 It’s fine to ass-plant on national TV.

1 year ago

8. Your coach isn’t always right.

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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