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6 Toxic thoughts every swimmer should drop

posted Jul 19, 2014, 11:35 AM by Pat Windschitl   [ updated Jul 19, 2014, 11:35 AM ]

Over the course of the day we tell ourselves a massive number of things. From reminders, to words of encouragement, to the not-so-so encouraging. It’s no different during our workouts, where we can ride the roller coaster of thoughts through a session in the pool. One moment we are confidant in our abilities, motivated at how we are doing, the next we are doubting ourselves, thinking that all the effort is for naught.

A lot of our negative thoughts fly under the radar, barely noticeable, and yet still making a sizable impact. I can’t do that workout. I don’t deserve success. There’s no way I can go that fast. The odd thing is, you would never let someone else talk to you this way, so why should you allow this type of negativity to sprout from within?

Here are 6 common toxic thoughts that every swimmer should drop:

1. “I want to avoid struggle and risk.”

Often we view struggle as an indication that something is going wrong. That with resistance brings proof that we are not meant to swim fast. If we were meant to be accomplishing great things in the pool than it would be easy, right? Nope.

Nothing worth attaining comes without some measure of sacrifice, hard work, and yes, struggle. Don’t misinterpret struggle or discomfort as a stop sign. Find the challenge within the struggle and grind on.

Remember that there will always be hiccups and setbacks. While not everything is in your control, how you react and grind forward is.

2. “I’ll swim like a boss when I feel up to it.”

There will always be a reason not give your best in the pool. In order to avoid taking up action at that very moment, you’ll seek out every reason imaginable for why now simply isn’t the best time. The lane is too crowded. Had a stressful day. Didn’t get a good enough warm-up.

There will never be a perfect time to give your best, never be a perfect set of conditions where you can unleash your full potential. The only “perfect” moment is the one you have at this very moment.

3. “I wish I was as tall as Swimmer A, or had the training facilities of Swimmer B.”

It’s hard not to look at our competitors and rivals and not be envious of their better training facilities or better genetics and feel a little envious. If only we were that tall, or had access to their pool, then we would truly excel.

While we cannot always control how tall we become or where we live, we can choose to make the most of what we have. If you’re struggling to get past this mental hurdle, remember that someone will always be looking at you wishing they had your genetic gifts, and your training opportunities.

Focus intently on making the absolute most of everything you have been given, and refuse to fall into the mental trap of wishing for the opportunities that have been given to others.

4. “I couldn’t do it before, so I won’t be able to do it now.”

When we need reminders of how awesome we can be we peer back into our personal history for examples of times where we just killed it in the pool. Those moments serve as excellent bookmarks in our book of awesome, and reminds us that we are capable of devastating swimming.

Similarly, when we get into a mental rut we tend to think back to the times where we tried but came up short. We search through our performance history to solidify the doubts we have about leveling up our swimming, unfairly focusing on past mistakes.

Developing a selective memory here is important; learn the lessons of those past failures, and apply them moving forwards.

5. “What will so-and-so think?”

How many times have you stopped short of doing a little more at practice, or fully chasing your goals because you were worried about what someone else would think?

The reality is you will always be your harshest critic. While you think other people sit around all day thinking about you and judging your actions, it’s almost completely likely that they won’t give whatever you are doing a second thought.

Do what will bring you closer to your goals. If people are dead set on judging you, that is their problem, and not yours. Don’t allow the opinions of others to influence your performance in the pool.

6. “I’ve missed my opportunity. It’s too late.”

No matter where you are at in your swimming, and what you hope to accomplish, you can always make a change to strive for excellence. Simply because you are frustrated that you haven’t progressed fast enough doesn’t mean you should squander what opportunity you still have in front of you.

Instead of worrying that you didn’t start yesterday, focus on starting today. Remember this: A year from now you will have wished that you had started today.

Olivier Poirier-Leroy is a former national level swimmer based out of Victoria, BC. In feeding his passion for swimming, he has developed YourSwimBook, a powerful log book and goal setting guide made specifically for swimmers.