The Secret to being a Great Swimmer

by SwimSwam 16

March 15th, 2015 Britain, Europe, Lifestyle, Opinion

Swimming Opinion is courtesy of Gavin Cooley. Follow: @Gjcoolone

What do the best swimmers in the world do unlike anyone else? Actually, let’s change that. What do the best athletes in general do to be so amazing? What makes them so much different from the rest of us? Sure, the hours put into training, the nutrition, the mental capacity for competition, and many other characteristics all have to do with it, but what is one quality that all the elite possess? Why are they so special?

The answer is simple.

The best athletes, regardless of sport, have mind numbing consistency to the point of complete and total failure within their training. There is no task too big, no challenge they can’t overcome, all because of consistency. No matter what, they never stop moving forward. Elite practices are monotonous. The same process is followed each day, with little variation. It is said that the Beatles practiced for a jaw-dropping ten thousand hours before they went big time… In all truth it is this simple fact that keeps most from being great. It is not lack of skill, or time. It is a lack of commitment. As my coach says, that’s just being brutally honest with you.

Why aren’t more people “great” then?

Tragically, most people just lack the willpower. The best don’t necessarily live extraordinary lives, doing crazy activities frequently. They just don’t eat that extra slice of pizza. They do that extra squat, push up, or pull up. Bedtime is 8:30, and the rooster crows bright and early, at 4:45. While waking up that early is impressive (especially if you aren’t a morning person), it’s not something thousands of people worldwide can’t do. Being great isn’t as monumental of a task as you think.

How can I become great?

Start out making small changes, big changes can actually harm you, and most people can’t complete their goals if they try to make big changes right away. Dedicate yourself to one small task to completely focus on, long term and short term. In swimming, it’s details that win races. If you can take one more dolphin kick off your wall than your competitors, or keep your head down and hold your breath for one more stroke, it could be the difference between winning and losing. To be able to do these small things well, they require sharpening. A blacksmith originally sharpens the blade while it is still hot, giving the sword the ability to cut. By practicing your small details under fatigue, when you are rested you should be able to excel in those parts of the race, and the little things add up.

Do you personally know or have you heard of someone who is great through consistency and focus in the swimming or business community? If so, comment their stories below!

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Gavin, this is an excellent article. I am so proud of you!


I agree about the willpower stuff but I think the author’s disparaging comments about pizza are uncalled for.



Yes, for most of his career, Lochte was a notorious junk food eater! But perhaps he could have been even faster without it!


This article is fantastic for gifted individuals, but could be misleading to others. Take Rudy – you know the one the football movie was about. While he made the team, and inspires countless individuals in any goal they want to achieve, there is a reason he only played at the end of a single game. All that hard work did not make him “great”, like being named an all-american. The hardest worker on the swim team desperately wants to swim for LSU. She’s young, but if she doesn’t get help in the form of a growth spurt, and muscle development, there is just no way. It breaks my heart, and every day I hope that her body grows to be… Read more »


You are right. Hard work and dedication might not make you a great swimmer. But these character traits often carry over into all aspects of your life. So the hard working dedicated swimmer may become a successful professional, family man/woman, business person, volunteer, etc.


Agreed! Totally!


Spot on, and this is what many miss. Very very few will make it to the elite level. It is what these kids hopefully learn while attempting to get there is what will make them successful individuals in their chose career or life paths…..