Being human is such a complex experience. It’s by no means simple. There are times when you feel like you’re on top of the world and where you feel totally invincible. There are other times when you feel like you’re stuck at the bottom and where you feel completely vulnerable.
Swimming is also a really complex experience. Again, it’s by no means simple. There are times when you feel like you’re a fantastic swimmer who can take on anyone who steps up next to you. There are other times when you like you’re never good enough and everyone else around you is and will always be superior to you.
Swimming can lift you up and make you feel incredible things. It can show you sides of yourself that you love and give you a sense of self-worth and meaning. Swimming can also throw you down and make you feel horrible things. It can expose aspects of yourself that you hate to see and give you a sense of self-loathing and hopelessness.
No matter what you experience in swimming, it’s important to understand this: You’re stronger than you think you are.
You’ve had bad races before, haven’t you? You’ve swam races that were dreadful. You’ve performed really poorly and gotten some pretty awful times. However, no matter how badly you managed to swim a race, what happened each time you swam one of those bad races? You got back up on the block for your next race and you decided to go again.
You’ve had some really bad training sessions before too, haven’t you? You’ve had some practices where you were basically worthless and couldn’t accomplish a thing. You couldn’t hold your pace at all and seemed to miss every single turn off the wall. However, no matter how bad a practice or training session was, what did you always do? You showed up the next day and went back at it some more.
You’ve also had some really painful races, haven’t you? You’ve had some swims where the physical and mental pain and exhaustion just felt like it was swallowing you up. Your legs were burning, your arms numb, and your lungs felt like they were on the verge of collapsing. However, no matter how painful a race may have been, what were you always able to do? You were able to finish that race and get your hand to the wall.
Lastly, I’m sure you’ve experienced some miserable failures during your time as a swimmer. I’m sure you’ve gone through some excruciating losses and moments of unbelievable heartache. You somehow managed to lose a race you weren’t supposed to lose or just barely missed getting that time cut you desperately wanted to get and worked hard for. However, no matter how much you’ve failed or how painful an experience has been for you in swimming, what have you always managed to do? You’ve always managed to stick with it, believe in yourself, continue to show up, and not give it up.
There’s a real power in recognizing small feats of strength and resilience. Many times, success and accomplishment isn’t the act of holding a trophy in your hand or grasping a medal that’s been placed around your neck. More of than not, success and accomplishment is simply the small act of showing up the next day. It’s having the eagerness and the willingness to suit back up, strap on your goggles, squeeze on your cap, and jump into the water despite the disappointment and pain you’ve experienced.
Perhaps you’ve just swam the worst race you’ve ever swam in your life and you still have 3 more events to go today. Perhaps that bad race has caused you to lose confidence in yourself and doubt whether or not you can swim your best in your next event. If so, just remember that you’ve always managed to bounce back from a bad race before and climb back up onto the block to go again. You’re stronger than you think you are.
Perhaps you’ve just had the worst meet you’ve ever had, where every single event you swam was really poor and the times were equally as awful. Perhaps that bad meet has caused you to doubt yourself, to think that something must be wrong, and to think that you’re going to have a bad remainder of the season. If so, just remember that you’ve had bad meets before and have always been able to get through them and turn things around. You’re stronger than you think you are.
Perhaps you’re coming off of the worst season you’ve ever had where you weren’t able to drop time in any of your events and it feels like you’ve done nothing except manage to go backwards. Perhaps this past season has caused you to question yourself; to lose the desire and determination to continue on. If so, just remember that you’ve had a bad season before at some point, and yet you still managed to continue on, to not give up, and keep pursuing your dreams. You’re stronger than you think you are.
The strength to keep going despite the pain, both physical and mental, is no small thing. The perseverance to continue onwards and stay the course despite your setbacks is not at all insignificant. It takes great courage and great bravery to WANT to keep going and push on despite everything you’ve been through. It takes real heartiness and real guts to wake up each day and keep moving forward. It takes true fearlessness to walk out of your front door and face the world. Each time you do, you’re proving to everyone around you, and most importantly to yourself, that you DO have great inner strength.
The fact that you’re still here, the fact that you’re still swimming, and the fact that you’ve managed to continue moving forward and following your path despite what you’ve been through proves without a shadow of a doubt that you do indeed have great inner strength. If you didn’t, you would have walked away a long time ago. You would have given up after the first painful swim, the first bad race, the first bad meet, or first bad season. Yet, you didn’t.
Swimming will always be complex. It will always hurt, both physically and mentally. It will always place challenges and obstacles in front of you. It will always present you with setbacks and roadblocks. It will always give you moments of disappointment and experiences of heartache. You’re always going to swim a bad race, get a bad time, have a bad meet, or have a bad season at some point. However, no matter what happens, and whenever you start to doubt yourself, just always remember this:
You’re stronger than you think you are.
About Will Jonathan
Will Jonathan is a sports mental coach from Fort Myers, Florida. His clients include athletes on the PGA Tour, the Web.com Tour, Major League Baseball, the UFC, the Primera Liga, the Olympics, and the NCAA, as well as providing numerous talks and presentations on the mental aspect of sport and peak performance to various sports programs and organizations across the country. He’s currently the official mental coach for the Florida State University Swimming & Diving team. He provides private, 1-to-1 mental coaching sessions for swimmers on location or through Skype, as well as providing talks and presentations to swim teams on the mental aspects of swimming.
Website – https://willjonathan.com/
YouTube – https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC33_eUb7wjnlB1AGw4sDSfQ
Twitter – https://twitter.com/_WillJonathan_
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/WillJonathanMC/