The Lies That We Tell Ourselves That Keep Us From Swimming Faster

The Lies We Tell Ourselves That Keep Us From Swimming Faster

The big ‘mo.

Surely you’ve experienced it at one time or another.

You put together a couple awesome workouts in the pool, and you can’t help but feel a growing surge of power at your back, as though the accumulated positivity and accomplishment in recent days is pushing you forward and onward.

But then what happens?

We slacken off. We miss a day.

And then we start back at square one, picking up the pieces, trying to get back to that place we just were.

It’s kind of infuriating, no?


Sometimes the reasons that we take both our feets off of the accelerator are out of our control. Injury. Illness. House of Cards season 3 comes out.

But a lot of the time, it is because of the mental wizardry that we use against ourselves.

Here are 3 of the goofy lies that we ply ourselves with that arrest the big ‘mo dead in its tracks…

1. I did good yesterday, so I can take it easy today.

This is something I prefer to call the cupcake fallacy (I don’t have much of a sweet tooth, but I will fully admit to being uncontrollable around cupcakes), and it is something that makes us feel good about the poor decisions we are about to make.

Here are a couple examples…

I swam super duper awesome yesterday, so that means I can totally slack off today.

I ate really well over the weekend, so I can dive head first into this box of cupcakes guilt-free.

2. I am planning on doing really good tomorrow, so I can totally do whatever today.

This is the previous lie’s ugly step-sister. Just in the future. (All of the step-sisters and step-brothers are ugly. Smooth talkers, though.)

We justify not giving a full effort, or giving the practice at hand our full attention by promising that in the future we will do so much better.

But rarely, if ever, does this happen. (Tomorrow you’ll say the same thing, or come up with a different excuse.)

Do you recognize any of these…

I am not feeling totally up to it, but I am sure I will be tomorrow.

My stroke doesn’t feel as good as I want it to today, but tomorrow—no matter what!—I will give a killer effort at practice.

3. It’s just one workout.

Is it, though?

How many times have you caught yourself saying that?

Just once, right?

Nope. That is incorrect.

It might only seem like once, but I promise you that the “just one time’s!” have accumulated up to being something sizable.

Because it is only “one workout” it doesn’t seem like much, and might seem close to the point of meaningless, but the sum total of times you use this excuse can add up to something very substantial, indeed.

(Every time I use the word “indeed” it makes me feel 6 IQ points smarter. Fact!)

Ultimately, just “one workout” probably won’t make much of a difference. But the routine of showing up every day is massive.

What are the goofy reasons you come up with to avoid maintaining the big ‘mo in the pool?

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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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