Wherever you may be in your swimming career and/or season, it’s important that you take time and make the effort to appreciate where you are and what you are doing, regardless of how you think you are doing.
A concept that I constantly preach is the importance of viewing your season as a journey, and your career as an even greater journey (many journeys comprising a much bigger picture). As with any endeavor, there will be challenges to face and successes to enjoy, both of which can either be a blessing or a curse, depending on how you view them and respond to them.
Experiencing success rewards hard work and boosts confidence, but can also inflict a false sense of invincibility and/or excessive pride. Hitting PRs early/mid-season is fantastic and should be celebrated, but it is important not to rest on your laurels or think that success will happen no matter what. Be happy with your success, but not satisfied, and be ready to get back to practice and put in the work needed to get even better. Take what you did well and build on it!
If you find yourself struggling, it is very easy to become overly discouraged and think that your season is doomed, and give up. But with every failure or defeat, there are lessons to be learned that should be applied to the way you approach training and racing.
I have said in previous articles that you should have the mindset that you never lose: you either win, or you learn.
If something doesn’t go right in a race – maybe you tried a new strategy or whatnot – you now know to change it! Less-than-stellar races also let you know what you need to work on in training…and any lack of effort in practice WILL reveal itself in competition.
Now for the main point of this article.
Perhaps the single most important thing I heard from a coach (my strength training coach in high school, probably the best coach I’ve ever known) was to Enjoy the Moment.
It was right before my final high school district meet, which could have been my last meet as a high school swimmer. Having known and trained me for four years and seen me grow as both an athlete and individual, he wrote me a letter emphasizing the importance of being in the moment and appreciating it, for it would be unique, and never come again.
I had some lofty goals for that meet, and was out-of-my-mind nervous about it, but in the midst of it all, I made sure to make the time to take in the Moment. It certainly helped, and I made sure to Enjoy the Moment the following weekend at the state championship meet!
No matter what happens for the remainder of this season, in the pool, in dryland, at work, or anything else, be it positive or negative, you must enjoy the successes, as they are memories that you will treasure forever.
But you must also learn to appreciate the lows, even as they happen (far easier said than done…believe me, I KNOW!!!). Sure, they are painful at the time, but if you learn from them and persevere, you may eventually come to view them as amazing, transformative experiences, hurdles that strengthened you on the way to even greater things.
In fact, you may even come to appreciate them more than achieving your goals!
When contemplated after a successful, rewarding championship meet, you’ll suddenly view that slow, sloppy race that you swam mid-season as a badge of honor, and possibly even a good (even humorous!) memory, and all that time you spent stressing over it will seem pretty frivolous, indeed.
Again, wherever you are in your swimming career, do be sure to Enjoy the good Moments, and at least appreciate the seemingly not-so-good ones.
Good or bad, they will never come again.
You’ll thank yourself for it!!!