As human beings, our behaviors and the things that we do are very
much dictated and determined by our beliefs. Every single day, and
in everything that you do, the decisions you make, the actions you
take, and the way you train and perform in the pool are all greatly
influenced by what you believe about the world around you, the
sport of swimming, and most importantly, who you think you are and
what you think you’re capable of as a swimmer.
For today’s article, my objective is simple – To help
you dispel and rid yourself of some of the harmful, limiting
beliefs that could be holding you back and keeping you from being
the best version of yourself that you could be. Let’s jump
Belief #1 - “I can’t win if I start behind off the
Let’s rewind to 2008. It’s the Olympics in Beijing,
China. Michael Phelps is going for the record of winning the most
gold medals in a single Olympics. In order to keep that dream
alive, he needs to win the 400m fre relay en route to the record.
However, the French have their eyes on winning that relay and
preventing Michael from achieving that record. Before the race,
they said this: “The Americans? We’re going to smash
them. That’s what we came here for.”
Michael Phelps leads off the relay, and he finishes his leg in 2nd
behind Australia. Garrett Weber-Gale swims the 2nd leg and gives
the Americans the lead, with the French having moved from 3rd place
to 2nd place. Cullen Jones swims the 3rd leg, and during this leg,
the French take the lead with the Americans dropping to 2nd.
Starting the 4th and final leg, Jason Lezak is a full body length
behind, but in the final 50m, roars back to out-touch the French
and win the Gold.
Get rid of this limiting belief that if you start behind off the
block, you can’t win a race. If you focus on yourself,
concentrate on your performance, and execute to the best of your
ability, there’s always the possibility that you can come
from behind to win. On top of that, you never have any way of
knowing how your opponents are going to perform. They may make a
mistake, tire early, or get discouraged and fall off once they see
you coming up on them. Never, ever give up on a race until you
touch the wall. Anything is possible.
Belief #2 - “I can’t finish strong once a race starts
Whether you realize it or not, you have a belief about how much
pain you think your body can handle when you swim. If the amount of
pain you’re feeling during a race doesn’t reach what
you think is your physical limit, then you will continue to push
yourself as hard as you can. However, if at some point during a
race, the amount of pain you feel does reach what you think is your
physical limit, then you will force yourself to slow down to
alleviate that pain, even though your body is perfectly capable of
pushing through it.
A swimmer can have either a positive attitude or a negative
attitude about any given level of pain. If you have a positive
attitude towards pain, you will be less bothered by it and are much
more likely to push harder and finish strong. If you have a
negative attitude towards pain, you will be more bothered by it and
slow yourself down more than you need to, even though your body can
physically handle that pain and keep pushing forward.
Get rid of this limiting belief that, when a race starts to hurt,
you’re not strong enough to handle it and finish that race as
best as you can. This belief is harmful because it will limit you
from pushing past your pain threshold and swimming as hard as
you’re actually capable of at the tail end of a race. The
human body can handle pretty much any amount of pain and fatigue
you experience during race. That’s not the issue. The issue
is how you perceive pain and fatigue. Have a positive attitude
towards pain, and you can overcome it.
Belief #3 - “I could never be as good as they
Levi Brock wasn’t recruited by any big NCAA schools. His
times just weren’t anything spectacular. He swam about a
56-57 in the 100y Breast during his senior year in high school.
Seeing as how he wasn’t recruited by any major school, but
given that he still had the burning desire to swim for a major
school, he asked Indiana University if he could walk into their
team. Recognizing his determination, the coaches at Indiana allowed
him to walk on.
His freshman year at Indiana, he dropped 2 seconds off his 100
Breast to a 54.78. His sophomore year, he dropped it further down
to a 53.36. By his junior year, he dropped it even further to a
52.88. And finally, in his senior year, and during one of his last
collegiate swims, he swam a whopping 51.45, getting an NCAA
“A” cut and automatically qualifying for the NCAA
National Championships. He went from being essentially a nobody to
being one of the best breaststrokers in the country.
Get rid of this limiting belief that other swimmers who are
currently better than you are, are these untouchable invincible
people that you’d never be able to compete with. This belief
is harmful, because as long as you put other swimmers on a
pedestal, you’ll never have the confidence and self-belief
necessary to rise to a higher level, and you’ll limit
yourself from ever realizing just how great you can potentially be.
As I mentioned earlier, human beings have unlimited potential.
Never allow yourself to put a limit on what you could do.
When working with my swimming clients, I’m always testing
them by telling them to constantly question what they believe. As a
swimmer, you should be periodically checking in with yourself and
asking, “Am I holding onto any limiting beliefs that are
holding me back and limiting me from being my best?” If you
don’t take the time to ask yourself this question, than you
can fall victim to a number of false beliefs that will limit your
ability to grow, improve, and succeed. Always be looking to
overcome limiting beliefs.