Your self-worth is everything when it comes to peak performance in the pool. Finding useful and straightforward ways to enhance your worth is vital and the mental, technical, and physical sides of your swimming can offer you the opportunity to do so. To get you started, I’ve included an example of each below:
- Mental – Stay The Course: Staying true to you and your goals is a key to long-term success. During swim camp, I often ask swimmers this simple question: “How many of you want to the go the Olympics one day?” Time-and-time again the younger ones raise their hands most often. That’s because the older ones have given up on their Olympic goal believing that it’s too hard to achieve or not meant for them. The problem with adjusting downward is that each time you do, it lowers your self-worth. Staying committed entirely, no matter how stressful the journey, is the absolute best approach. Even if you never reach the Olympics, striving for it year-in-and-year out will make you a better swimmer overall. When I first started coaching in 1972, my dream was to produce an Olympic swimmer. Finally, after 21 years of dedicated coaching, it came true. Throughout that entire time I never once gave up on my dream.
- Technical – Boil Kick: If you were to watch the women’s and men’s 100 and 200-backstroke final and the 100 and 200-freestyle final from the 2016 Olympic Games, you’d notice a common trait amongst all eight finalists. What’s that? They maintain a boil kick from start-to-finish which means an intense 6-beat kick that takes place just below the water’s surface. Kicking in this manner guarantees an ideal body position, maximum leg output, and full-body rotation for a stronger pull and reduced drag. To add this Olympic-skill to your repertoire, you’ll need to build a super-strong core through intense dry-land training and commit to kicking like crazy in practice. Are you up for the challenge? If so, I promise that you’ll drop tons of time and rule the pool.
- Physical – Pull Your Way To The Top: There are hundreds of strength-building exercises that can bolster your swimming, and one of the best of all is an old-fashion pull-up. It’s not fancy by any means, but it can build the muscle needed to perform at peak levels. A few years ago a 12-year swimmer named Matt attended one of my camps, and we had a great time working together. On the last day, I told him that he could be much faster if he increased his physical strength. I recommended that he get a pull-up bar and do as many pull-ups as possible both morning and night. I warned him that it would be extremely challenging at first but very rewarding in the long run, so he took my advice and began. After months of struggle, he achieved “his age” in full pull-ups. Now, three years later, he can do 45 in a row! There are very few swimmers, or people for that matter, who can do that many. His physical strength isn’t the only thing that improved. This past summer Matt won five gold medals at his state swimming championship!