Ready to Get Serious About Crushing Your Swimming Goals? Start Here.

I have always had mixed feelings about September.

With the fresh start to the season we are filled with optimism, hope, and fresh, new goals. We see the year and season ahead with wide-eyed excitement and anticipation at having a fresh slate.

On the other side of things we are also reminded that there were some things we wanted to achieve last year but didn’t, provoking a bittersweet state that is similar to the mixed feelings that many of us experience on New Years Eve.

One of the most common mistakes that swimmers make when they set goals is to not create a plan. They dream, they hope, the fantasize – but they lack a credible and realistic plan to get them from where they are today to where they want to go.

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Plan Backwards.

Looking at the swimmer you want to become at the end of the season, hold this athlete up to where you are at today. What separates those two athletes? What will you need to do to cross the bridge between goals and reality?

Broadly-speaking, you should know:

  • What is the target stroke rates and stroke counts you are aiming for?
  • Break down the race into target splits. Those numbers will be what you chase daily in practice; they should serve as the constant reminder of what you need to be reaching for.
  • Can your turns be faster? How about your starts? Your underwater work? There are tenths of a second to be found and sliced everywhere, so remember to be thorough about all of the little things you can improve on in the water.
  • What areas outside of the pool can you see the most improvement? Are they things like your mental outlook and preparation? Consistency in training?
  • Can you do better to have yourself recovering faster? Things like sleep don’t get the credit they are due, and yet staying on top of your Z’s can be one of the most effective ways to keep your performance at a high level on a consistent basis.

Now Get Specific.

You should have a nice little list of areas where you can make improvements. But it is not enough to want these things, you need to make them actionable. You need to break these mid-sized aspects of your performance into smaller, daily, actionable items.

  • What will your typical day look like? Now that you have an idea of what it is going to take over the long haul to achieve your goals, what will each day of training entail?
  • What are your target stroke rates/counts vs. your current stroke rates/counts? You should be aiming for these the next time you are in the pool. Write them down on your kickboard if need be.
  • If your goal is to improve your consistency in training how are you going to stay on top of this on a daily basis?
  • If you are trying to get more sleep nightly to recover better and faster, what are you doing to get to bed nice and early regularly?

And so on.

Write up what your daily routine and workout schedule will look like so that you have a battle plan you can move forward with starting tomorrow. Not next week, not when you feel like, and certainly not sometime later this season. Start punishing those goals now.

Write out what you want to achieve with your swimming. And then write out what you are going to do about it.

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Olivier Poirier-Leroy Olivier Poirier-Leroy is the founder of He is an author, former national level swimmer, two-time Olympic Trials qualifier, and swim coach.

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