How to Swim Faster By Doing Less

My New Year’s Resolution this year was to do less.

Not less of the things that are working, but less of the things that are not.

(Sounds obvious, but let that marinate for a moment…)

The easiest way to achieve more is not always by doing more, but by doing less.

Here is what I mean by this…

Swim Faster By Doing Less

Subtraction is the simplest manner to be more efficient, more awesome, and ultimately, more better looking.

(Not totally sure on that last one, but let’s just say that’s the case for argument’s sake…)

If you want to break down success to it’s most simple, most basic form, here is what it looks like:

Performance = potential – interferences

Now, this looks deceptively simple, and I think that is the problem people have with it.

But…but…what about talent? What about technique? What about how I bend my arms during my recovery? Blah blah blah.”

Our first instinct when we want to accomplish big ole things in the pool is to look for the big swings.

The big change.

  • I’m going to swim an extra 10,000 meters per week!
  • I am going to do a million push ups this month!
  • I am going to do butterfly for every set, including warm down, for the rest of my life!
  • I’m going to do all of the things!

It is natural to look for things to be bigger and more pimped out in order for us to perceive it as better for us.

We puff out our chests, make the proclamation that we are gonna do it better, bigger and extra bigger than everybody else.

But instead of thinking about what to add to your current training regimen, take the counter-intuitive approach and think about this…

What Can You Eliminate From Your Training That Would Give It a Boost

What can you eliminate from your training or from your life right now that would give your training a boost?

Rarely when we think about how to swim faster do we consider the things to drop.

Writing up a big, greasy “to do” list is easy, and often leads us to frustration because adding habits is hard.

Really hard.

But manipulating the ones you already have, well, that is a whole lot easier.

What are the things you are doing right now that are hamstringing your success?

  • Are you pulling in the last 5m of every wall during kick sets?
  • Are you sitting in bed browsing your social media feeds when you should be sleeping?
  • Are you pulling on the lane rope during backstroke sets?

Here be a little exercise to try out…

Write up a “to don’t” list and tape that bad boy to your kickboard. To your fridge. To your sister.

(Okay, maybe don’t do that…)

Having a “to don’t” list creates a set of boundaries that you train within…

  • No pulling into the wall on kick sets.
  • No social media after 8pm.
  • No pulling on the lane rope during backstroke.
  • No taping things to my sister’s head.

And, from personal experience, I have found that they are easier to abide by than tacking on extra work.

After all, sometimes it is just easier not to do something.

A little something for you to think about the next time you hop 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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