In the world of club swimming in Oregon, we just wrapped up another long course season. Many teams and athletes take the next few weeks off, to rest and prepare for both the new school year and upcoming short course season.
As a coach, I like to reflect on what I have learned, and what I can use to help my athletes attain even greater levels of success next season. A concept that is constantly being reinforced to me is to simply Trust the Process. For swimmers (as well as any other athlete), this involves the usual things: consistent training, proper diet, adequate sleep, etc.
It really is that straightforward, but for some reason, the brains and/or emotions of athletes have an annoying tendency to get in the way. For example, someone who tends to overthink things might be doing everything they can to achieve success, but if they nitpick their training and preparation too much, they are inevitably going to find something that they think they can do better, and let that get to their head. They’ll think that, because they may have overlooked something, it spells certain doom for their focus event. For a more emotional individual, any time they don’t quite perform the way they want to, be it in training or in a preparatory event, they let the inevitable frustration get the better of them.
In either case, the consequences can be bad, but likewise for both, the solution is to Trust the Process.
This past short course season, I had a swimmer set a goal to qualify for the state championship meet in the 100-breast. His best time was a 1:23. The state cut is 1:11. He was one of the hardest and most dedicated workers I’ve ever coached, the kind that every coach wants to work with. He did everything asked of him, and over the course of the season, he set a new PR every time he dove in for a 100 breast – both club and high school meets. That’s quite an impressive accomplishment, and well deserved, but it came with a price and a risk: any time that he didn’t do as well in practice as he would have liked, or even failed to drop time in a different event, he thought that all was lost.
I told him that he simply needed to Trust the Process, that all was well, and the world wasn’t ending.
To his great credit, and despite his frustrations and misgivings, he never gave up. Not only did he end up reaching his goal, but ultimately went a 1:05 at the state champs meet – that’s an 18-second drop in a 100-yard race over the course of a few short months! And in the process, he easily qualified for state in the 200-breast and nearly did so in the 50-free and 100-free, as well. Come summer, he also made it into the long course state championship meet to round out a great swimming career.
Your goal(s) can be anything, from athletic to job or health related. No matter the area, there will be a Process involved if you want to achieve success. The best thing you can do is find someone who knows that Process and can help you achieve it, be it a coach, supervisor, doctor, etc. From there, just put in the necessary efforts and take care of your mind and body.
You’ll like the results!