Swimmers at the top level make it look so easy, don’t they? Years of practice and focused effort produce strokes that are effortless and fluid. With their nearly superhuman speed and times we forget that they are just as human as the rest.
Beneath the smooth performances, lies years of hard work, diligence, setbacks, victories, defeats, and ultimately, triumphs. Over the course of their own respective grind they have learned what to do, and what not to do to succeed.
Here are ten things that elite swimmers don’t do:
1. They don’t look for the easy way out.
Hard work is a rare commodity these days, and given our climate of instant fixes and miracle cures it is no surprise. Every direction you look there is a product or service that promises to alleviate your problem, with no strings and with little to no effort.
SEE ALSO: How to Prevent Swimmer’s Shoulder
Don’t be fooled by this. Anything worth achieving requires hard work. A lot of it. Instead of cringing and grimacing at the sight of the work in front of you, be willing to hack away at it, piece by piece, day by day.
2. They don’t agonize over what others think about them.
“I don’t know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everyone.”
The moment you decide to do something special with your swimming people will begin telling you whether you can do it. Whether you can’t. Whether you are capable. Some opinions may be based in authority (coaches, fellow swimmers), while others are from people who quite frankly don’t know what they are talking about.
At the end of the day, learn to trust yourself. If you believe that it is possible, than that is literally all that matters.
[alert style=”yellow”]Reminder: You can download this full list for free as a glorious PDF that you can print out and use for daily reference. Click here to download it now and remind yourself on a daily basis to do it better than your competition.[/alert]
3. Try don’t to chase too many goals at once.
Once we get a little taste of success, of the rewards that come with chasing the pursuit of excellence, we tend to get a little greedy. We start looking outwards for other awesome stuff to achieve, expanding our vision, and at the same time watering down our efforts, and eventually, our results as well.
Resist the urge to achieve everything at once, and instead drill down with remarkable focus and intensity on a select number of goals. It’s best to do a couple things exceptionally well then to do numerous at a mediocre level.
4. They don’t allow others to define their success.
Having goals set for you, or creating goals that are designed to please someone else, are destined for failure. (At which point you will not only feel like you have disappointed yourself, but also the other person who somehow managed their way into your plans for success.)
Create goals and a vision that is yours. Your goals are the ones that will motivate you beyond the first couple weeks of hard training. During the small dips in motivation, and in the dead of winter when it is freezing outside and the last thing you want to do is go to practice.
5. They don’t focus on what they can’t control.
Ultimately, we can only control so much about the outcome. We can only manage our own performance. Getting caught up in what other swimmers are doing will only distract you from working on the things that matter to your own swimming.
When you are standing up on the blocks next to your top competitor you should be quietly confidant because you did everything you could do to prepare. At this point the confidence has overtaken you because the result at this point will write itself.
6. They don’t spend time blaming others or making excuses.
We all experience frustration and disappointment when things do not go as planned. The easy thing to do is to brush off responsibility and lay it at the feet of a variety of excuses. It’s easy to say that the pool wasn’t the right temperature, or that your cap didn’t feel right, or that you simply didn’t feel like it.
Elite swimmers don’t spend their time making excuses, or shouldering their performances on others. Instead, these athletes are more than willing to take full accountability for their swimming, both in good times and in bad.
7. They don’t think success happens overnight.
There is no such thing as an overnight success story. There is only the illusion of it. Behind the scenes, long before the gold medal swim they were toiling away, working with patience and determination for their own day to splash on the scene.
Being successful equates with being patient and hungry, of understanding that success is found in the process, in showing up everyday and doing their best. The successful swimmer, although eager and starved for success, also knows that achieving big time stuff is a long term process, not something that will happen overnight.
8. They don’t fold when things get rough.
Adversity happens to all of us. What marks the difference between the swimmer on the top of the podium and the one sitting in the stands is a refusal to fold under pressure and difficulty.
Every swimmer at some point in the process will get hit by a barrage of setbacks. Getting really sick, a gnarly injury, and so on. What matters is not necessarily what happens, but how you react in the aftermath.
Will you bounce back stronger after a shoulder injury? Phelps did after he broke his wrist in the run-up to Beijing. Will you bounce back after getting sick and missing a week of training? Or will you steady on when your coach up and leaves, or you move to a new team?
9. They are willing to find a new path.
The path to success isn’t a sure one. While we can try and plot the steps that it will take to get there, hiccups inevitably arise, and there will even be moments where you progress much faster than you ever thought possible.
Elite swimmers know that while their path to success is flexible and up for change, their will to see the path through is not.
10. They learn from their mistakes.
Championship swimmers recognize the inherent value in failure, for it provides a valuable opportunity for feedback and learning – if you’re willing to see it as such. For some swimmers failure is the end. It’s proof that they couldn’t do it, that they don’t deserve it, and that they will never be the amazing swimmer they thought they could be.
For the best swimmers in the world (and in your local pool), failure is nothing but a stepping stone, an opportunity to learn what works and what doesn’t, an opportunity to learn and adapt and ultimately, charge forwards smarter and faster.
Ready to take your swimming to the next level?
Download the full list as a pretty PDF that you can print off and use daily to remind yourself what it takes to swim like a boss.
Click on the download link below and I will send along the PDF to you…