Have you ever heard of someone tell you to be present? Or to be in the moment? Have you ever wondered what that truly means or how it will impact your life? I can speak firsthand that for a while never actually knew what it meant to be present, but I learned this one day at a swim meet in Orlando at NCSAs.
The first two to three days of the meet I was struggling to go best times and was becoming discouraged. I was continuing to let my poor performances follow me into my future races and affect them negatively. This was when I learned what it truly meant to be present. I learned that you have to be focused on what is directly in front of you. To be present means to understand the larger picture but be focused on what you can control in that moment. After struggling for the first few days, this realization helped me breakthrough to positive results.
I went into my next race, the 200 breast with a clear vision of what to focus on. I was prepared to focus on my stroke count, to be excited for the race, and to know that no matter the outcome I gave it my best effort. By approaching my race from this new and improved perspective of being present, I dropped 4 seconds from my best time, in a morning swim. Let me add a little side bar here, I thought of myself always as a night swimmer not a morning swimmer.
Once I decided to be in the moment, I just keep seeing better results from there. The next day I went a lifetime best, at that point in my career, in the LC 100 butterfly. The positive results just kept building up from there.
Another important thing to realize and understand about being present is that, like a negative mindset, it has a trickledown effect. Often this effect can lead to an overall difficult meet for the week if you start off with one bad race. But, by learning to be present, you can have a single bad race, followed by a lifetime best. In the face of adversity, you must learn to overcome the challenge, always. Often being present allows you to overcome these challenges by staying focused. Few people would have gotten to the point I did, more than halfway through the meet with bad swims had have been able to turn the tide.
I remember it well; I crushed that 200 breast prelims swim so well that other coaches were approaching my coach and complementing him on how well they thought it looked. That is beside the point, however. The point is, I was only 17 years old, and I was able to figure out what the challenge was, overcome that challenge and succeed, proving what is possible with the right mindset, the present.