The Frustrations of the Up and Coming Swimmer

by Olivier Poirier-Leroy. You can join 9,000+ swimmers and coaches who read his motivational newsletter last week by clicking here.

Is there anything more frustrating, more disheartening, than giving it your all day in and day out, and being unable to escape the feeling that you aren’t making the deserved gains in the pool?

After all, it’s been months and months of training and you are still putting down the same intervals in practice as you were at the beginning of the season. The times you have been swimming in meets have been a couple hundredths of a second off your best times…from last summer. And it seems like the harder you try in practice, the more you are just spinning your wheels, getting nowhere exceptionally fast.

It makes you feel like you a truck buried in the mud, foot stomping the pedal through the floor, burning all your fuel and red-lining and barely inching along.

But just like that truck stuck in the mud (apparently I have been listening to some country today), at some point it is going to gain traction, and when that moment happens, byyyyyyee!

But until that moment, here are some reasons that you are feeling a little more stuck than usual:

You underestimated how much work was needed.

Sure, working hard for three whole weeks at the pool is great, but does that mean you are going to drop 5 seconds in your 50 in that span? Unless you are just starting out, the answer is almost always an overwhelming no.

The way you are practicing sucks.

All practices are not created equal. Focused, concentrated practice, where you bear all your attention on maintaining killer technique and swimming as close as possible to your top-end speed is good practice. Swimming through your workouts with sloppy technique, streamlining like you are holding a beach ball over your head, and at a constant, mediocre pace, on the other hand, is not good practice.

You aren’t thinking about getting better daily.

Each day you should be going to practice and doing it just a tiny bit better. You don’t need to hit a home run every day at practice, and you shouldn’t expect to drop a huge chunk of time overnight, and you shouldn’t have to wait until a few weeks or months have passed to see improvement, no matter how small. Steadily build up the little wins, and you will achieve a stunning amount of improvement over the long term without ever really noticing, while also riding the mini-bumps of confidence and pride along the way like a magical unicorn.

You are spending too much time complaining vs. taking action.

For some swimmers, arguing is their favorite stroke. When the main set goes up they try to negotiate the intervals and distances. And when they don’t swim fast enough they find fault with the training circumstances, the set, and the weather (even though its an indoor pool). Complaining is easy, taking the initiative to take action isn’t.

You are giving up far too quickly.

Mastering anything requires time and patience. And with anything worthwhile, there comes a time during your little quest to awesomeness where nothing seems to be getting you to move forward. This rough patch is what separates those who go on to excel, and those who are merely taking a casual swing at greatness. Push on, stop searching for the shortcuts and easy routes, and remember that it’s only a matter of time before you get unstuck and hurtle forwards.

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8 years ago

Thank you. This was great to read after a disappointing championship meet today.

Matthew Goettler
Reply to  Swimmer
7 years ago

Just happened to me as well, but instead of being down about it i have a fire burning inside and I’m ready to work.

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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