The pairing of the words “try” and “easy” seems illogical at first yet the “try-easy concept” is fundamental when performing in competition. This concept is not new, in fact, Lao-tzu, the famous Chinese philosopher born in 604 B.C. understood it very well. I found this quote of his many years ago, and it’s still one of my all-time favorites:
“When an archer is shooting for nothing, he has all his skills. If he shoots for a brass buckle, he is already nervous. If he shoots for a prize of gold, he goes blind or sees two targets.”
The idea of “shooting for nothing” or “trying easy” when performing in competition can only work when the opposite is true in practice. Swimmers must put forth their best effort day-in-and-day-out to maximize their preparation. Once complete, they can relax and allow the “fruits of their labor” to play out naturally. This absence of mental effort allows the body to flow effortlessly and perform as prepared.