The process, the struggle, the grind—whatever your preferred term—is real, and at times, it feels like it goes on endlessly. Swimmers are no stranger to it, with our marathon seasons, endless two-a-days, and never-ending cycles of training.
Through it all it can be difficult to turn a positive eye when things feel like they are stacked up against you.
But there are benefits to persevering through the tough stuff.
Whether it is a stream of injury and illness, a disappointing set of performances, or the overwhelming crush of schoolwork and training, when you learn to appreciate difficult situations a few powerful things happen…
- You learn to find your way out of tough spots faster.
- You are more optimistic and less likely to toss in the towel at the first hint of difficulty.
- You detach yourself from results and focus instead on making the small increments of improvement.
All of which combine to help you swim faster, sooner.
What you might not have known, on the other hand, are these three little talked about benefits of persevering through the grind:
1. It Gives You Empathy.
It’s easy to look at the strides someone else is making and think to yourself…
“Pfft, I could totally do that if I wanted to do.”
When you are neck deep in the grind, and every step forward feels like it requires a Herculean sum of energy, than you begin to appreciate the struggle that others encounter on their respective paths.
Suddenly you have a little more respect for that national champion you see at local meets. You can’t help but be a little in awe of the youngster on your team that hasn’t missed a practice all year.
It pushes you to being a better teammate (and ultimately, swimmer) by understanding the trials and tribulations the swimmers around you are going through.
2. It Teaches You Where You Can Improve Most.
When that tough main set is scrawled up on the whiteboard it can be easy to want to sink back into our comfort zone.
To not push yourself and to stay happily within your self-perceived limits.
Because after all…
The grind can be a cruel teacher.
It can expose weaknesses in our preparation and training just as easily as the end of season swim.
It can highlight where we aren’t taking enough rest and sleep. It reminds us where our conditioning is at when our technique completely falls apart early in the main set. And it shows us that we aren’t completely ready to level up to the next level of training.
Yes, there will be moments where the struggle is mega-struggley.
These aren’t indications that you need to quit, but rather, tell you with rather pointed urgency that something has got to change.
3. It Builds Character.
Showing up every day and putting in the work not only develops a powerful foundation for future performance, but it also builds layers of character.
When you make a goal, and stick to it over the long term in the face of disappointing performances, getting sick, and spiking levels of self-doubt, you teach yourself something that is so valuable it’s impossible to put a price on it…
You identify yourself as someone who commits to their goals and sees them through.
That sounds simple, but consider this statement a little more deeply for a moment…
When you know in your heart that a goal will be chased down, that you will invest your energy and smarts into delivering on the promise you made to yourself…
You are much more likely to stay true to your goals in the future.
Sure, it’s easy to say that you are the type of swimmer (and person) who sticks to their goals. Who stays true to their promises. Who has the integrity to see things through.
But when you have concrete evidence of this type of behavior in your personal history it creates a solid foundation for future goals.
The struggle is rough.
There is no disputing that.
There will be many points in your swimming career where the easier path is the door.
But for those who stay true to their goals, who are willing to see past their current circumstances, there is a lot to be gained by having the personal integrity to go toe-to-toe with the trying bouts of training that comes with our sport.
Things like faster swimming in the long run. No regrets at having invested a complete effort. And building the character and personal integrity that is characteristic of high achievers in sport.
Dominate the Competition.
YourSwimBook is a log book and goal setting guide designed specifically for competitive swimmers. It includes a ten month log book, comprehensive goal setting section, monthly evaluations to be filled out with your coach, and more.
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