I Can't Believe I Just Did That!

When we start swimming many of the goals we seek seem a long way out of our reach. Yours might be swimming 100 meters continuously, or breaking 10 minutes for 400m or perhaps swimming the course at the local lake for the first time.

When you finally achieve that goal do you think: I can't believe I just did that!

Moments like this are huge for your swimming (and your life in the wider sense) because doubting you can do something is incredibly self re-enforcing. Once you are faced with the simple truth that you actually can do something, it breaks that cycle and you can quickly move on to bigger and better things.

The truth is that most of the things that hold us back aren't real, they are just in our heads, even in elite sport: Once Roger Bannister finally broke the mythical 4 minute mile, numerous other athletes quickly broke the barrier too.

Is there a more powerful positive force in sport (or life) than belief?
We don't think so.

So, perhaps the single most important thing you can do to improve your swimming is to take a deep breath, ignore the doubts and attempt your goals more often. Yes there will be a little voice in your head saying "No way can you do this!". Ignore it. Or answer it back with a little fighting talk: "Well we're about to find out about that". Set off, try to forget what you're actually doing and just do it!

Of course you might not hit your goal the first time. No problem, pick yourself up and have another go again soon. We bet you learned something along the way (did you set off too fast or kick too hard?) and it will almost certainly feel easier, calmer and more exhilarating next time around.

Swim Smooth!

(Obviously with any open water swim, make sure you have good safety support on the water with you - be brave, not reckless.)


Anonymous said...

Do you have exceptions to the success story?
My story - I'm 55. 5 years ago my 1k time was around 21.30. First I did the Total Immersion course - did practice 3x per week - no improvement. Then I sent a video to Paul Newsome - he recommended certain remedial drills - sculling, javelin etc, plus CSS sets to improve my swim fitness. Practised 2x per week - no improvement. Then I upped my volume to 8k per week along with more drills along similar lines. My accessories - 2 types of paddles, fins, tempo trainer, pull buoy, kick board. I've done 3 x 70 min, 2.5-2.9k sets per week throughout winter.
My current 1k swim time? 22:50.
I've trained smart & hard.
What next? Feel very frustrated when I hear the success stories.
Perhaps some people have low potential for improvement?

Anonymous said...

Yes Swimsmooth. It's a great feeling! I am 48 and just started swimming again in 2012. I have done several sprint triathlons with a 400m swim. I was elated in 2012 to break 10:00. I went to one race where a lady told me she got to 7:30. I dreamed of that but never thought I'd get there with no in person coaching and swimming only from the end of May to mid September every year. This year I hit 7:51 in my time trial and 7:40 in my race! I am ecstatic because I found my own ways of swimming with a good tempo and good catch. I'm sure I could get faster so I may start attending masters swimming. My friends are still swimming slowly and wondering how I've done this. I also came in 3rd place overall for women. Great race. Believe in yourself. Swim some fast laps to get fast.

Unknown said...

Two years ago I smoked 30 Cigarettes a day and my asthma was becoming a real problem. I didn't think I would see 50. I stopped smoking and restarted swimming after many years. I taught myself freestyle and recently converted to bilateral breathing. I can now swim 1385 metres in 60 mins. Not bad for a 46 year old who swims once a week. If I can do this anyone can. I love your blog, its been really helpful.

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