When it comes to competitive swimming, most athletes will tell you that winning a race is just as much about their mental state as it is about their physical abilities.
That is what makes swimming such an amazing sport. A lot of the time, it doesn't necessarily matter what background you come from, how naturally athletic you are or how physically able you might be. At the end of the day, it is all about your internal fortitude and will to win. Swimmers have to be willing to put aside tiredness or doubt, and overcome their weaknesses before they even enter the pool. The second you psych yourself out, you have already lost. For this reason, keeping a strong mindset when going into a race day is so important.
That is why, as we come to the end of one of the busiest times in the competitive swimming season, we want to give you a rundown of how to keep your head in the game.
Do it now – Waiting until tomorrow to finish what you can get done today doesn't work in any realm of life, but especially not in swimming. Get a goal in mind and work everyday to pursue it. There is no time like the present, so whether that means hitting the gym, eating healthier or just working on a stroke that has been your weak spot, being mentally tough isn't about planning, it's about doing.
Focus on you – It does not matter what the competition is doing differently or similarly to you. Remember, swimming is more about what you tell yourself than what others say, so just focus on yourself! Train hard, listen to your coaches advice and try your best. According to Swim Swam, focusing energy into elements of your race that you can actually control – like your training and strokes – will yield much better results than worrying about others techniques.
Keep calm – Unless its pumping yourself up for race day, getting worked up is not worth it. Try and stay cool and collected, and keep your emotions in check. It can be easy to get caught up in a setback or a struggle, but knowing that failure (and success) is short-lived is the best way to be mentally tough. Try and see the bigger picture and work towards a big goal.
Learn from mistakes – Like any part of life, learning from your mistakes will only make you better. Try and set realistic goals, but realize that everyone who has ever tried to achieve greatness has stumbled on their path.
Swim Swam writer and former competitive swimmer, Olivier Poirier-Leroy, says "Whether it was setting unrealistic goals, ignoring areas of their training, or simply living the lifestyle of a part-time, casual athlete, we've all had moments where we fall dramatically short from our goals. While some will take their setbacks and failures as proof that they are unworthy, the mentally tough swimmer learns what went wrong, adapts, and plods on, undaunted."
Take on the tough stuff – Not every workout is going to feel good. Not every session is going to go the way you plan. Not every meet is going to be a success. But that is part of the adventure. The tough parts of your training and development are going to be the things that make you great. Oftentimes, the things that set you apart from your competition is the ability to work through the hard sets and be better for it, so don't shy away from them just because they are difficult.
Whether you are swimming solo or with a team, you need to have the best gear for game day. Be sure that your suit will work for you by purchasing the proper racing swimsuit for you. Visit Swimmer's Choice for top-of-the-line products.