Regardless of how talented, fast, or experienced, there may be one common area where swimmers struggle – self-doubt. Whether during practice or behind the blocks, we sell ourselves short by thinking we are not capable of reaching our highest potential. Self-doubt can creep into your head when you least expect it. For example, being given an interval or goal time that seems unattainable and your mind is already thinking “There’s no way I can do that.”
I myself had developed this negative habit without even realizing it. One night at practice, I dramatically argued to my club coach that I would NOT make the first swim on the intervals I was given. It took only one challenging question back to snap me out of my self-doubt. My coach simply looked at me and tested, “why not?” I quickly realized that I didn’t have a reason why besides that I considered them “too fast”.
Hard work isn’t all it takes to achieve your goals. You have to 100%, without doubt, believe that you can do it. Once I realized I was holding myself back by writing off the practice as a failure before trying it, I decided to buy into it and ended up making those times. From then on, I began to ask myself “Why not?” every time I felt self-doubt surfacing in my mind.
It’s crazy the things that can happen when you set your mind on a goal and not let your confidence waver. Of course there will be times where you fail, but you gain more by trying and failing than never trying at all. The only way to get better both in the pool and in life is to take the risk of pushing yourself out of your comfort zone. Thankfully, I had a coach that was willing to call me out and push me in the direction that I needed to go. Since moving on to college swimming, I have carried that phrase with me in everything I do.
So from now on, before shying away from a goal you deem too big, challenge your self-doubt and ask yourself “Why not?”