Excellence Starts in Practice: 8 Ways to Swim Like a Boss From Day 1

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.

There is no doubt that we all want to achieve butt-kicking results in the pool. But not everyone is willing to put in the effort those types of performance require on a daily basis.

Here are 8 things you can do to elevate your swimming and consequently, your results come meet time:

1. Pay Attention When You Are Tired. Ever notice that when you get fatigued towards the end of a long set that your technique, breathing and stroke rate all take a running cannonball off into the deep end? These are precisely the moments that you need drive all of your focus and energy into maintaining good form, so that come race time, when your arms, legs and lungs are burning and aching to quit your stroke (and speed!) will stay well put together.

2. Take Pride in Your Work Ethic. Like him or hate him, Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers is one of the best to play the game. With numerous scoring titles, team championships, and an amazing rap career (okay, 2 out of 3 ain’t bad) Bryant is also one of the hardest working players in the game. Former teammate John Celestand related a story that took place in Kobe’s 4th year with the Lakers that exemplifies Bryant’s approach to training:

The first time I began to understand why he was the best was in the pre-season. In a game against the Wizards, Kobe broke the wrist on his shooting hand. He was always the first person to practice every day, arriving at least an hour and a half early. This would infuriate me because I wanted to be the first person to practice, just as I had always been at Villanova and Piscataway High in New Jersey. To add insult to injury, I lived only 10 minutes from the practice facility — while Kobe was at least 35 minutes away.

I am ashamed to say that I was excited the day after his injury because I knew that there was no way that No. 8 (as former Laker point guard Tyronn Lue called him) would be the first to practice, if he would even be there at all.

As I walked through the training room, I became stricken with fear when I heard a ball bouncing. No, no, it couldn’t be! Yes it could. Kobe was already in a full sweat with a cast on his right arm and dribbling and shooting with his left.

Are you willing to have the type of work ethic that will separate yourself from the herd? (It should be noted that having an exceptional work ethic doesn’t simply mean doing it for longer and for harder; you should be striving to do it better and smarter as well.)

3. The 10% Rule. Don’t know how to develop a killer work ethic? Or where to start? Implement a 10% rule with your training. After all, if you train the same as everyone else, you will achieve the same results. Want to place your head above the crowd? Adopt the 10% rule and vow to do your sets and practices 10% better than everyone else. Sure, 10% may not sound like a lot right now, but the cumulative effect will be astounding.

4. If you don’t know why you are doing something, ask coach for clarification. Pool time and your energy are limited, so make sure that you are spending your time and energy in a manner which serves a specific goal. If you find yourself confused for why you are doing a specific set, inquire. Swimming through a set because you don’t have a target or objective in mind is a waste of valuable training time.

5. Emulate race conditions. Training is all about developing the skill and physical ability to swim fast on competition day. On those sets and reps that require your max effort, envision your competition in the lane next to you. This will help condition your racing instinct for the next time you step up on the blocks, and also make your training more focused.

6. Break out faster than acne on a regular basis. Every session is an opportunity to improve your turns and breakouts. It’s great when there are periods in a workout when coach designates as a time to work specifically on these skills, but realistically, to get exceptional at these you should make them habit, something you just do.

7. Don’t accept limits in practice. There is no reason you can’t go a PB time in the middle of hard training, in practice. All too often swimmers get hung up on the fact that they aren’t supposed to swim fast in practice, that those dazzling performances are solely for swim meets when the mythical taper has kicked in. There is no rule in space and time that says swimming devastatingly quickly mid-session isn’t possible. Be willing to expand what you think is possible during training.

8. In first, out last. Procrastinating on getting into the water is the worst. The longer you stay out on deck while others get in and begin to warm-up the harder it becomes to want to get in. Beat this and pick up the habit of always doing it better by being the first one in the water at practice, and the last one out.

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.

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2 Comments on "Excellence Starts in Practice: 8 Ways to Swim Like a Boss From Day 1"

newest oldest most voted

Outstanding article– All great points. I will be sharing with our entire staff at Nitro. Thanks for posting.

Phillip sadchikov

Hey mark it’s me Phillip the one that went to your practice yesterday morning I liked the article that you posted can you also post a video about the cross over turn I really need to work on that for the Im I do a bucket turn for it but it’s to slow so I want to learn more ab out the cross over turn so can you post a video on that please??

About 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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