17 Mental Training Resources for Swimmers

Boost self-confidence, improve mental toughness and master mental skills with this collection of mental training resources for swimmers.

For many swimmers, working on their mindset is reserved for “weak-minded” swimmers. Or it looks too confusing. Or they dabbled with it in the past and were disappointed by the results. Or they don’t have time for it.

But mental training doesn’t take a lot of time, it is a collection of skills that have worked for novice and experienced swimmers, and perhaps most importantly, gives you a sense of clarity with your mindset that allows self-confidence to flourish.

And ultimately, that’s what mental training and deploying mental skills is all about…

Giving you the same kind of mental clarity that you get from a brand-new pair of swimming goggles.

Over the years, both here on SwimSwam and on my blog, I have written extensively on mental training skills.

(Even wrote a mental training workbook for competitive swimmers, titled Conquer the Pool: The Swimmer’s Ultimate Guide to a High-Performance Mindset.)

Below is a collection of mental training resources for competitive swimmers and swim coaches.

Wherever you are at with your swimming career, there are mental skills that you can use to improve your mindset and performance in the water.

Let’s get after some free-range mental skills goodness:


How to Set Goals Like Michael Phelps. The GOAT was a voracious goal setter, even from an early age. He kept his goals written, visible, and highly ambitious. Here are some goal setting tips from the greatest to ever do it.

This Goal Setting Exercise Will Bring Your Goals to Life This Season. One of my favorite goal-setting techniques of all-time is future journaling. By writing out our goals in this format, we better prepare ourselves for the adversity and challenges ahead.

The Science Behind Setting Better Goals in the Pool. SMART goals is a solid format for goal setting, but if you want to maximize your effort and time in the water, try this proven goal setting template for more consistent practices and faster swimming.


Caeleb Dressel and the Power of External Self-Talk. Swimmers have a constant narration happening between their ears. Directing and managing this conversation is a proven way to boost performance. Here’s how external self-talk, literally talking to yourself, can help you swim your best.

Pro Tip: How to Seriously Boost the Effectiveness of Your Self-Talk. Improved self-talk is pound for pound the best thing you can do for your mindset (and your swimming). With tactical, better self-talk comes improved swim practices, more mental toughness on race day, and a bunch more. Here is a tip for taking your self-talk to the next level.

3 Proven Ways Self-Talk Can Help You Swim Faster. Whether it’s using instructional self-talk to improve your technique and efficiency, or using motivational self-talk to boost your effort and mental toughness during brutal sets and pressure-packed meets, designing and improving your self-talk boosts performance. Here are three ways how.


How Swimmers Can Get Started with Visualization and Imagery. Mental imagery is a powerful skill that swimmers can use to improve just about every level of their swimming, from technique to managing pre-race nerves. Here are some pointers and strategies for getting the most from daydreaming, err, visualizing.

7 Olympic Swimmers Who Use Visualization. The way that you use visualization and mental imagery is ultimately up to you. Here are seven Olympians on how they used visualization to achieve at the highest levels.

How Michael Phelps Used Visualization to Stay Calm Under Pressure. Phelps and his longtime coach, Bob Bowman, used mental imagery as part of his preparation. Phelps used mental imagery to prepare for the pressure and rigors of competing against the best swimmers on the planet. Here are his—and coach Bowman’s—tips for maximizing this skill.


8 Ways Swimmers Can Develop Superhero Self-Confidence. Fast swimming means having the self-confidence to know that our best performance will show up on race day. Here are eight proven ways that swimmers can develop superhero self-confidence at the pool.

Olympic Champion Tom Dolan: Adversity is Confidence in Disguise. Tom Dolan, an Olympic gold medalist and world record holder in the 400m individual medley, had exercise-induced asthma and a partially blocked trachea. Dolan used these disadvantages and his superhuman work ethic to dominate one of the most challenging events on the swimming program.


Natalie Coughlin: Focus Up and Turbocharge Improvement. Natalie Coughlin, 12-time Olympic medalist, world record breaker, and NCAA champion, credits her ability to sustain high levels of focus during practice as her secret for success.

How Swimmers Can Be More Focused at Swim Practice. Being able to control your focus means you are going to swim with better technique, get more enjoyment from the process, and ultimately, swim faster. Here’s the swimmer’s guide to being a focus machine at the pool.

12 Ways Coaches Can Help Swimmers Focus on What Matters. The ability to control your concentration is one of the most effective tools you have for faster swimming. Here is a detailed breakdown of 12 strategies swim coaches can use to help their swimmers improve this critical skill.


The Swimmer’s Guide to Performance Anxiety and Pre-Race Butterflies. The nerves and stress that happen on race day are unavoidable, and in reality, are designed to help you perform your best. Here’s a breakdown of the process of maximizing those feelings in competition and when the pressure is on.

This One Trick Can Make Anxiety Work for You in the Pool for a Change. Everyone experiences pre-race nerves and anxiety. Reframing this anxiety as excitement instead of anxiety is a simple way for you to channel those clammy hands and churning belly towards faster swimming.

Olympic Champion Summer Sanders: Don’t Fear Pre-Race Nerves. Even though we imagine that our Olympic heroes are mentally bulletproof, they are subject to the same pre-race nerves and jitters as the rest of us. Summer Sanders, Olympic gold medalist, shares her perspective on pre-race nerves and how they don’t mean much until you assign them meaning.


Olivier Poirier-Leroy is a former national level swimmer. He’s the publisher of YourSwimBook, a ten-month log book for competitive swimmers.

Conquer the PoolHe’s also the author of the recently published mental training workbook for competitive swimmers, Conquer the Pool: The Swimmer’s Ultimate Guide to a High-Performance Mindset.

It combines sport psychology research, worksheets, and anecdotes and examples of Olympians past and present to give swimmers everything they need to conquer the mental side of the sport.

Ready to take your mindset to the next level?

Click here to learn more about Conquer the Pool.

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Ava-Rose Lunt
1 year ago

What are some swim training sessions for me?

3 years ago

Thank you!

About Olivier Poirier-Leroy

Olivier Poirier-Leroy

Olivier Poirier-Leroy is a former national-level swimmer, swim coach, and best-selling author. His writing has been featured on USA Swimming, US Masters Swimming, NBC Sports Universal, the Olympic Channel, and much more. He has been involved in competitive swimming for most of his life. Starting off at the age of 6 …

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