Could Dory Have The Answer To Improving Your Swimming?

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The alarm clock has just gone off on the morning of your weekly threshold swim, or you're sitting in the pool car-park contemplating the long continuous swim ahead, or you're halfway through a tough red-mist set. You feel like quitting, throwing in the towel, packing it in.

We've all been there... but giving in to that feeling and quitting will strike a fatal blow to you reaching your swimming potential.

The mental skill to sustain a strong effort through training or racing is one of the cornerstones of developing your distance swimming. Obviously you need to swim to your maximum in races but you also need to push in training in order to develop that fitness in the first place (and be fit enough to maintain your stroke technique).

It's tempting to reason that you don't need to do the set this week (you do), or that it would be bad for your stroke technique (it isn't) or your stroke is falling apart (it won't). These are all excuses to avoid doing the hard work and get developing those essential mental skills in the first place.

If you are struggling mentally with getting your head around swim training, when you feel like quitting we suggest a little advice offered by Dory to Nemo:

Is This The Thing That's Holding You Back?

You know it could be that you already have all the ingredients you need to be the swimmer you want to be - you have enough knowledge, enough training time and enough natural talent. What if it's actually your head that's holding you back - your inability to come to terms with the effort required to get to where you want to be?

The good news is that sustaining a strong pace isn't about pain tolerance or mental toughness, it's really just a mental skill you need to develop. It's about learning to detach your thoughts from the feelings of hard work and just letting the effort happen. When you get good at this and are really on your game, tough sets don't really hurt much at all, in fact they become kind of fun.

So, when the negative thoughts start to creep in, block them out and Just Keep Swimming. Everything will get easier from there!

Swim Smooth!


Unknown said...

Great advice! What is most important is that I believe it applies to everything in life!
You are really great, guys, and your work has helped me a lot, and not only in improving my swimming...


Hakan said...

20x50m RP, high elbow, USRPT, catch-up drill, work work work. Some times only 3 words would be equal to be in water for many hours. "Just Keep Swimming". What a great mantra.

Anonymous said...

Your posts are always right on and help me in some way, but this one--this one--is like you've been in my head. As I've been building my yardage back up, I've probably been quitting too early, thinking that my technique isn't holding well enough to support the extra.
Now I know better and will, in fact, just keep swimming. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

My household nick-name is Dory... more from my forgetfulness than my swim ability I must admit... but when I go swimming I am in full Dory "just keep swimming" swim mode :)

Rudolf said...

This is a dangerous road!

There's something like instinct, that thing may warn us when we cross over into abuse of our true physical strength - and that could turn out costly health wise later down the road.

Never ignore your inner voice if it tells you to slow down, that's not mental strength, that's what get's many wannabe's into health trouble.

Ream mental strength is knowing when to take a break but be eager to get back to it as the full strength is back.

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Good thinking. The question that arises for me, probably to avoid possible that hard work, is how many times a week do the same, and if in open water planning for the summer, that word would only be necessary in the specified period of preparation to open water or during all year


Adam Young said...

Hi Costin- thanks a lot- you're welcome!

Hakan- Yes it is a fab mantra- Have you read our book? It's just we don't advocate some of the drills you mention...

Anonymous1- Maybe we have ;-) You're welcome!

Anonymous2-Great to hear you remember that!

Rudolf- when you read the post it is very clearly aimed at those lacking motivation, or procrastinating, not those pushing themselves beyond their limits - the whole point is that it's just about getting started and then the training doesn't feel that hard (because it actually isn't). Of course anyone training properly for any sport should get themselves checked out by their doctor for any underlying health issues before even starting but beyond that the real risk with people training too hard is over-training over the course of multiple days and weeks, where the bodies own mechanisms hold them back with fatigue and lack of mojo, that's not what we're talking about here. Someone over-training is inherently very motivated in order to get to that point, not under-motivated. By the way, when are we going to see that video of your stroke??

Adam Young said...

Hi Ernest, are you asking how often should you train? I think that dramatically depends how much training time you have and your current level of fitness.

Saying that, there is a big difference with training three times a week versus two times - it's hard to make progress swimming just twice. You can go a long way on three good sessions.

I hope that helps,


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