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Five ways to bounce back from a bad swim


  1. Be resilient

Normally your racing conditions will generally be acceptable, sometimes even perfect. But relying on them to be perfect always leaves you open to getting rattled when things don’t go as you expect:

  • Your goggles snap
  • Your goggles come off or fill with water
  • Your rival has pulled out and you have to swim next to an an empty lane
  • You misjudge a tumble turn or finish

What matters most is how you react to these events. While you may never know exactly what will happen come race time, you can train and prepare for less-than-perfect race conditions.

  • Training and competing in conditions that are adverse before your big meet will prepare you for those “oh, snap” moments when your race plan doesn’t get off on its best foot. Bob Bowman would sometimes turn the lights off at practice so that Phelps would get used to swimming blind – which ended up happening in the 200m butterfly in Beijing. By the end of the race his goggles were completely full of water, and yet Phelps – knowing exactly how many strokes he had to complete – cruised to an easy victory and another world record.
  1. FIND out the cause

If you go before the start signal early relay take-off, the answer is pretty simple. Do you think you will ever leave early again on a relay exchange?

Not a chance !!

  • Making mistakes is how we all learn.
  • The person who says they have never made a mistake has never done anything.
  • Without beating yourself up, try and look as objectively as possible at your swim and figure out why things didn’t go according to plan.
  • Did you set unrealistic goals? Did your preparation match the outcomes you envisioned?
  1. PUT it into perspective
  • It’s not the end of the world.
  • It’s easy to lose yourself in the instant replay of what happened. Over thinking how other people may now perceive you, how you disappointed your teammates/coaches/internet pen-pals. Embrace the pain as your actions determine your next result in the competition arena.
  • Remember other times where you faced adversity and came back successful.
  • Get back in the moment; sure, go over and over again about that bad swim might make you think that you can change the outcome, but thinking about it on an unending loop in your mind will not change the result.
  • It could always be worse. Yes, that’s right, it can always be worse.
  1. Don’t take it personal
  • This one is hard. Very hard.
  • There will be times that your hard work will simply not pay off. Something beyond our control will knock us off our pedestal and tumbling away from the achievement of our goals. Another swimmer touches the wall first or we get injured.
  • Does that mean we are not deserving of success? Of course, it doesn’t. It simply means that success will have to wait another turn.
  1. Use THE EXPERINCE IMMEDIATELY as fuel FOR the next time you swim.
  • Mistakes can demoralize and defeat you, or they can be the catalyst for you taking your swimming to the next level.
  • If you have made a technical error in a race and you or your coach have identified it, put it right straight away in your cool down.
  • This is a practice double Olympian double Commonwealth Champion Chris Cook did every time he made a technical mistake in competition.
  • Failure should motivate you. Successful swimmers experience failure and absorb it, take it in and remind themselves daily how it feels, because they never want to experience it again. In your practice sessions set your self-challenges/targets were the odds are against you and success is not always guaranteed.
  • Greatness doesn’t come from a podium finish or a medal.
  • Greatness is something you build.
  • It is slowly developed day by day, practice by practice, metre by metre.
  • Remember, the only person that can stop you succeeding in yourself.
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