[This was originally sent out to the newsletter list. It has been republished here by popular demand. If you haven’t signed up for the YourSwimBook newsletter it’s free, goes out twice a week, and is designed to give you a kick to the chlorinated butt.]
When it comes to improving we tend to fall into the trap of thinking that it’s the big change, the big moment that leads us to crushing a best time.
In reality, it’s doing the little things right. Being consistent. And taking pride in the process of becoming a great swimmer.
Here are 33 simple ways that you can start being a better swimmer. Today.
1. Work harder than everyone else. A work ethic will always win out over talent (eventually in some cases, but still always).
2. …while also having more fun. The swimmer who can work their tail off and have the most fun is unbeatable.
3. Keep your mind open to the fact that you aren’t always right. We don’t know everything.
4. Be a role model for someone on your team. It will make more of an impact than you know.
5. Be proud of your work ethic. Shortcuts rob us of the pleasure that comes with the result.
6. Always finish strong. First, last, or anywhere in between, put your head down and swim to the wall. Always.
7. Be grateful for the sport. We swim in filtered, cold water that no one will drink. Think about that for a moment.
8. Do something new and challenging every day. It will keep you focused and unleash a torrent of unending motivation.
9. Be the teammate you wish you had. Doing so will inspire others to be awesome as well.
10. Don’t take the unfairness personally. There are super unfair moments in life where it’s just not to be. Move on.
11. Shake hands with the competition after every race. Sportsmanship matters.
12. Push yourself. Don’t settle for self-imposed limits on what you can do.
13. Thank the people who got you there. Swimming is a lonely journey at times, but there are parents, coaches and friends who partake in your trek.
14. Be the swimmer you want to be. Don’t wait till you swim that best time or crush that record; act like a championship swimmer today.
15. Enjoy the moment. Win or lose, take it all in. You’ll look back on all of it with nostalgia at some point.
16. Acknowledge when you aren’t your best. It’s okay to stumble. It’s better to accept responsibility for it.
17. Breathe. It’s just one bad swim.
18. Be a student of the sport. Watch how the greats do it. Watch how the fast kids on your team do it.
19. Cheer for your teammates. Even the one that touches your toes all day long at practice and never passes you.
20. Set the example. Others will follow.
21. Don’t let fear choke your aspirations. The pain of regret will always be worse than the pain of trying and coming up short.
22. Choose your fab-5 carefully. The swimmers and people we surround ourselves with impact our attitude and behavior more than we realize.
23. Do the scary stuff. Swim out of your comfort zone often. It will give you a foundation of courage and confidence to do even bigger things.
24. Laugh at your mistakes. But not those of others.
25. Keep your commitments. Keep your word and finish what you start.
26. Think in terms of “what if?” To make things less scary, ask yourself “what if?” What if I work hard for this whole week? What if I show up to every morning practice?
27. Have goals. They will keep you motivated and engaged during the long hours in the pool.
28. Don’t complain. The only thing it does is literally make you feel worse. If you are unhappy about something don’t wait for others to change it for you.
29. Ignore the things you can’t change. How other swimmers perform isn’t up to you. Focus on you and your swimming.
30. Block out the haters. They’re out there, poisoning your thoughts while contributing nothing. Accept that people will always have something to say.
31. Do it for you. Don’t swim to please your parents, your coach, or your friends. Swim for you.
32. Learn from your swimming. Why it went right, why it went wrong. Hack the feedback loop.
33. Don’t wait. If you have goals in the pool, don’t wait. Ever.