6 Ways for Swimmers to Mentally Get Out of Their Own Way

Often times we can be our own worst enemies in the pool. From paralyzing thoughts of failure, to getting too worked up before a race, our brains get in the way of our bodies from performing the way it has been conditioned to.

Here are 6 ways to get out your own head so that you can swim out of your mind:

Stop looking to others for the answers you already have. Odds are pretty good that you know deep down what you need to do to achieve your goals. You’re aware of the work, the dedication, and the changes that will be necessary to achieve big things. But you hold out up that someone will give you a shortcut or an answer, a way out from doing the hard work.

You get hung up on mistakes you have made in the past. We estimate that our future will look like our past. After all, we look to the times we have done in practice to telegraph how we are going to swim at a meet. A successful swimming career is not one that is free of mistakes or failure – but rather, of lessons learned and overcoming those setbacks and hiccups and prevailing.

You expect things to go perfectly. When we make a plan for success in the pool, no matter where the goal falls in the scheme of achievement, and things don’t go swimmingly (pun intended!) we tend to view this personally. See, I don’t deserve to swim fast. I knew that I wouldn’t be able to do it. Our shortcomings reinforce the dark, insidious doubts that we have about ourselves that lurk in the back of our minds. The process will never be perfect, and believing so will only lead to disenchantment. Accept the grind, the bumps and bruises that mark the face of a champion.

You lose yourself in the outcome, and forget the process. Succeeding in the pool is a much richer experience than just winning a medal at a meet. The things you will learn by focusing on the moment, by showing up every day and devoting your energy and focus to the tasks at hand, those are the things that will make you an elite swimmer. The time that you post on the scoreboard, of the color of the medal, or the record that you smash are all simply by-products of this devotion to the process.

You’re focusing on the competition instead of yourself. Being a competitive sport there is that whole thing about having 7 other athletes in the pool when you get up on the blocks. Focusing on their performance however, only ensures that you are neglecting yours. Don’t let what the competition is doing knock you off of your race strategy, your mental preparation, and the way you plan on swimming.

You’re allowing naysayers to take up to much of your inner circle. People will always complain. It’s easy. It’s the default setting that many fall into. And as such, it’s all around us. The teammates who scoff at your goals. The coach whose eyebrow goes up when you outline your ambitions. The parents who talk smack. It’s all out there, and it’s a frustrating part of trying to be uniquely successful at something. Don’t allow them the privilege of having influenced your performance. Make today be the day where you only talk good of others, and only accept the same from those around you.

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

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