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.
Each and every time we go to the pool we hope to catch it again. We can’t completely put words to what it was, but we can describe how it made us feel.
The way we caught the water in our hands. Our stroke was long, effortless, powerful. With each turn we hit we exploded off the wall, gliding further and with less effort than ever before.
It’s a powerful and intoxicating feeling. You feel in control, albeit remotely in a sense, as though something bigger than yourself has taken over, at the height of your abilities, unleashing your skills and talents with relative ease. It might have been at a swim meet, where you destroyed a best time – and felt oddly relaxed, like you could have gone faster. Or during a challenging workout where you went a near PB in the middle of a ridiculously hard set.
That sensation, as has been detailed by researchers over the years, most notably psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, can be most aptly described as ‘flow.’
While it makes our swimming feel relaxed, effortless and super awesome, (and by extension makes the swimming at hand even more enjoyable) it’s very difficult to get our hands on it. We know what it feels like but we can’t really describe it. We cannot always immediately see how we ended up in flow, but we know that our swimming would be epic if we could summon it at will.
Here are a few tips to get you started so that you can enter that state of hyper-performance more often:
It starts with focus.
Flow is kind of like focus on steroids. The rest of the world melts away. The night’s homework assignment, the petty argument you had with your friend at lunch, the stress of day-to-day life, all fades into the background as a heightened focus takes over. Flow is infinitely harder to get into when we are distracted, or are trying to multi-task.
Flow likes challenges.
Flow flocks towards challenge – or more particularly, when the abilities and talents you have align with what you are aiming to do. Although what you are trying to do is challenging, it is not impossible. When we are pushed to stretch ourselves, to utilize the full breadth of our abilities in the pool, the conditions become ripe for flow. When we are training our butts off, and we know the impact that the dedication and hard work is going to have on our long term goals in the pool, than it becomes all the more easier to lose ourselves in it.
Log the moments where you get in the flow.
Keep a flow journal or log to learn and recognize the triggers that help set off flow in your swimming. Think back to the moments where you hit that prime state and consider the circumstances surrounding your performance. How were you feeling in the lead up to that swim? Were you feeling relaxed, at ease? What was your attitude towards your swimming? Were you feeling confidant in yourself and your abilities? When you
It’s the journey.
While it is critical to have goals and outcomes we want to achieve, when we drop into flow it is because we have accepted that our focus is best used on the process instead of fixating on a set of results. When we are swimming up and down in the pool, and we have entered flow we are focused on what we are doing presently. It’s the ultimate way of being present with your swimming.
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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