Choose Excellence in Everything You Do in the Pool

Choose Excellence in Everything You Do in the Pool

In the course of every swim practice, there are things that your coach asks to do that don’t quite tickle your chlorinated fancy:

  • A set that isn’t your main stroke
  • A drill that you think is “useless”
  • A breathing pattern that you struggle with
  • Doing a kick set when you consider yourself a lousy kicker
  • An aerobic set when you are a fast-twitch sprint type

But the way you do these things… the things that don’t “matter”…

Welp, they do matter.

Excellence in Everything - Tracy Caulkins Motivational Swimming Quote

Excellence in Everything

There is no such thing as a meaningless detail in the water. This is especially apparent with our sport. Because swimmers are battling against resistance that is nearly 800 times denser than air, those small details quickly begin to compound.

A streamline that isn’t tight? Just keeping your head tucked between your arms can decrease drag by around 10%.

Think about how much of a difference that “little” detail makes over the course of a practice, or more critically, a race.

This is what I am talking about when it comes to excellence in everything.

(Now, let’s not take this to the extreme and assign everything equal importance. Certain sets take will ALWAYS take priority, but with each set, each length, there is something to be focused on and “excelled” at, whether it’s swimming with slow, perfect technique, or blasting away an effort 200 off the blocks.)

  • Warming up? Warm-up with excellence.
  • Doing a drill set? Drill with excellence.
  • Sprint set? Sprint with… well, you know.

You have two options (and outcomes) with the time and effort you choose to put forward in the water.

You can do everything to the best of your ability, whether it’s something you don’t feel like doing or if it’s something you “like,” or you can drop half-an-effort, and get half-a-result.

Eddie Reese - Excellence in Everything

Excellence in everything = excellence is the default.

This kind of attitude isn’t about winning everything (aka sprinting warm-up and warm-down), but rather, doing everything to the best of your ability.

Whether it’s your main stroke or not.

Whether you like the set or not.

Whether you are fully motivated or not.

And let’s not kid ourselves here…

Excellence in everything gives you a MASSIVE competitive advantage…

Because excellence becomes the default.

  • You don’t need to “try” on race day…
  • You don’t need to force yourself to pull out a performance from you that only exists only under the best circumstances…
  • You don’t need to force yourself to be at your best…

Because excellence is just the thing you do.

Whether it’s your start, your turns, your race strategy—when the default is excellence you get to skip past the overthinking and uncertainty that cripples swimmers in competition.

Whatever the workout is, whatever stroke you are asked to use on the main set, whatever comes your way…

Choose excellence.

More Stuff Like This

This is How Powerful a Process-Based Mindset Can Be. Your coach has likely told you to trust and follow the process. Here’s an illustration of just how powerful this mindset can be when it comes to stepping up on the blocks.

Alex Popov and Training the Way You Race. One of the greatest freestylers in history, Popov trained with a merciless eye on efficiency. Here’s what you can learn from his highly focused approach to training.

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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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