What motivates you to stay active, fit, and healthy?
This article is a follow-up to the January, 2018, coaches’ article about goal setting. which can be found here:
I hope that you are enjoying making progress toward any SMART goals you have set for yourself (SMART is defined in the January article on goals). The January article was written in order to offer some ideas for goals and goal-setting, and encourage you to seek guidance from a coach or teammate. This follow-up is to offer a potential motivator toward setting and achieving your SMART goals: social support and camaraderie!
Some swimmers are very self-motivated and easily able to choose SMART goals and work toward them, and some swimmers have a tougher time self-motivating, especially at different times in their lives. Fitness can be a motivator for many people, as can competing and improving. For most people, they’d like to be in top form when they compete in swimming events. But of course, often other parts of life get in the way of always being in peak condition. I find that it is still worth it to participate in swim events even when I’m unable to be at my best. For example, I always learn something from racing and observing other participants that helps me to improve. Whether it is how to pace better, scouting out a new venue, or watching the technique of talented swimmers at the event, I always return home feeling like I have gained valuable knowledge and experience.
However, the primary motivation for me to attend as many events as I do is the social aspect of swimming. Despite coming to swimming later in life (I didn’t swim when I was younger and started US Masters Swimming at age 34), I have always been very active in sports, participating in a number of physical activities throughout my life. Across all of those sports, I have never come across a kinder or friendlier group of people as I have in the sport of swimming. I haven’t reached a conclusion as to what precisely it is about the sport of swimming that draws such extraordinarily kind and supportive athletes, but it is a happy reality for me and for others I’ve spoken with about this phenomenon.
So, even when I am not performing or feeling at my best, I always value attending swim events for the social connection, to support my friends as they swim, meet new people and cheer them on, and enjoy the support and kindness of other swimmers. For many people, competition and getting faster aren’t their motivators. Building relationships and enjoying the company of some of the friendliest people on the planet is an additional motivator that might be just for you. Put yourself out there for the camaraderie, and fulfill and create your SMART swim goals in the process!
Many who are reading probably swim for a medium-to-large-sized team, so it is likely that you already know this without having to attend competitions and events. However, if you don’t have a team available to swim with, I would encourage you to come out to a swim event and enjoy the friendliness of other swimmers. You can even meet people from all around the United States and the world at larger events. I suspect that eventually you will likely find yourself wanting to go to an event just to see a friend who you know will be there and haven’t connected with in a while!
Each person is unique and is uniquely encouraged at different times in their life by different types of goals and motivators. Perhaps for you as an individual or at this time in your life, the social aspect of swimming could be a good motivator to achieve your SMART goal(s). I hope you enjoy the wonderful mutual support of other swimmers as much as I have!