We all reach those points in our swimming where we feel fed up and boiling with frustration. Nothing seems to be going right, from your stroke feeling awful, to your competitors racking up speed demon-type times in-season, to drowning in school work.
Overwhelmed with all this negative baggage we look for the first and easiest rip chord we see – quitting.
Which is too bad, because if you hold on for just a little bit longer, or adjust your approach slightly, you will find yourself making that breakthrough you are looking for.
Here are 6 things to think about the next time you are struggling so mightily with your swimming that you want to quit–
1. The bumps in the road are a natural part of the process.
We love to imagine things being smooth sailing all of the time. Living a life, and swimming a career, where everything goes swimmingly (pun most certainly intended!) is not only wishful thinking, it is a breeding ground for complacency and apathy.
Instead, try to be a little more welcoming – or at least understanding – of the tough times in the pool. Challenges are the doors to excellence, and every once in a while you will have to kick through one of them.
2. Periodic deloading is not only recommended, it is necessary.
I’ll admit, I am still having a hard time with this. We are so conditioned to be 24 hour athletes, to be all-go, never-quit machines that we push ourselves to the point of burning out. Periodic deloading – and I am not talking about just swimming here, this point relates equally to work, relationships and so on – is always necessary.
No matter how good something is for you, there will always be a point where you hit maximum return, and then past that point of peak efficiency is diminishing returns. Sometimes this is the case with our swim training, and taking an extra day off to fully rejuvenate — both physically and mentally — can be just what you needed.
3. There’s a lesson in there somewhere.
One of the best things you could ever do for yourself, and this will apply to absolutely everything you do in life, from work, school, to relationships, is to learn how to search harder for the silver linings. It will drastically cut down on the mourning period after a crappy swim when you can look at it as a learning experience.
4. Always remember that true success is in the process, not the results.
Frustration often comes when we feel the progress we are making today won’t get us to where we want to be tomorrow. The imagined lack of progression now demoralizes us, and lessens our hope for success later. We are getting ahead of ourselves with this type of thinking.
Instead of worrying about the results that may or may not happen, stop fighting the friction of the moment and embrace the moment. When you focus on right now, instead of an imagined result, you loosen up, letting go of the struggle and get back into a state where you can relax and perform.
5. Moments of struggle and pain will get you focusing on changing things up.
Think back to the last time you had a bad swim at a meet; after the initial wave of frustration and moping had passed, and some rage had begun to sink in (or perhaps you skipped right ahead to the anger), what was the first thing that went through your head?
I bet it was something like this: “I am going to change XYZ! That’s it, no more XYZ!”
In the aftermath of frustration and disappointing results we look for ways to get better. And this is great! Just make sure that your rage and other emotions don’t cloud your vision to the point of acting rashly.
6. At the end of the day, you are still doing what you love.
Things could always be worse. Truly. Sure, life isn’t perfect, but at night when you go to sleep, your hair still smelling like chlorine, soaked swimmer’s towel hanging over your bedroom door, and that alarm is primed to go off in mere hours, you’re still getting to do what you are passionate about.
And yes, that is worth remembering.
“When you get into a tight place and everything goes against you, till it seems as though you could not hang on a minute longer, never give up then, for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn.” – Harriet Beecher Stowe