“At the moment of commitment the world conspires to assist you.”
Wanna know what the biggest indicator of success in the pool is?
It isn’t genetics. It’s not the coach you have, or the facilities you train at. Although all of those things do play a factor in the overall arc of your swimming career, the most potent symptom of championships swimming is having a single-minded, unflagging commitment to your goals.
The big C-word is scary for a lot of people, as it’s inferred that by committing to something you are giving up a whole lot of something else. Being committed means limiting your options, declining yourself the ability to be a never-ending window shopper of goals and achievements.
And in a way, this is true.
Commitment means investing your energy and attention into a singular goal, and yes, this means that sacrifices will be made along the way. This is unavoidable, however, as achieving anything worthwhile is inevitably accompanied by a corresponding measure of sacrifice.
There are countless examples of swimmers in the past who adopted this stubborn, steadfast commitment to their goals and continued in the face of ridicule and adversity.
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Vladimir Salnikov in 1988 winning the 1500m freestyle at the Seoul Olympics at the age of a then-ancient age of 28 after initially being passed over by the Russian swimming federation. Dara Torres, who at the age of 41 returned to competitive swimming to win three silver medals at the Beijing Olympics in 2008. Jason Lezak, also in Beijing, came back against the second fastest man ever in the event Alain Bernard to win the 4x100m freestyle relay, launching Phelps’ bid to win those 8 historic gold medals.
This seemingly superhuman trait is already within you. It’s not something that only a gifted few possess, but rather, something you not only already have, but something you can further develop.
Just think back to the last time you got really serious about accomplishing something. No matter what anybody said or did to dissuade you, you would not be stopped.
There simply was no alternative.
Now imagine if you could unleash and wield that fierce, unstoppable sense of drive and commitment at will. Consider for a moment how a lot of the typical things that hang up swimmers – insufficient training time, lack of resources, low confidance – are violently brushed to the side when you adopt this mindset.
It doesn’t matter what obstacles are in the way. Big, small, whatever – they simply don’t matter. You won’t be stopped.
Here are a few guidelines to help you recognize and fully embrace that inner drive so that you can use it at will:
1. Figure out if this is really what you want.
Sit down with your goals for a few moments.
Think about why it is important to you (and it should be emphasized that it should be important to you – not your coach, parents or anyone else), and what it will mean to you to accomplish it.
Having a clear and fundamental understanding of the “why” will help you stay clear-minded about maintaining an unwavering direction.
2. Go all in.
We tend to look up at our idols in the sport and imagine that they had it all sorted out long ago. That they made a plan, and that they executed it with smooth perfection. No hiccups, no self-doubts, no struggles.
Not only is this ideal creating unrealistic expectations for our own journey, it is also completely false.
The chief problem with this presumption is that we expect to have it all figured out before we ever lift a finger. And when we feel like we don’t, we shy away from going all in.
You can’t make a half-way commitment to a supremely rad goal. You’ll forever only ever give half an effort. In other words, you must commit yourself fully to the goal before you start. Not knowing exactly how things will unfold is not an excuse for inaction.
The path to your goal – and even the goal itself – will change. Your commitment to it should not.
3. Renew your commitment regularly.
Your commitment levels are fluid, not static. You don’t sit down and say “I’m committed to my goals” one day and then expect to have a full-blooded resolve for an indeterminate amount of time.
A common mistake that swimmers make is to make the commitment at the beginning of their journey, and expect it to take them the rest of the way.
This is wrong.
You need to feed your commitment on the regular to keep it fully charged. Some simple ways to do this is to regularly review and track your performances in the pool. Keep yourself accountable with your coach and parents. And setting smaller, short term goals that will keep you focused on the steps required to achieve your over-arching objective.
Take Your Swimming to the Next Level
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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