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It's your swimming, isn't it time you took ownership of it?
by Olivier Leroy of yourswimbook.com

The water was too cold. Didn’t feel right. Coach’s workouts obviously weren’t hard enough. Didn’t feel motivated. Think I might switch teams next year.
 
We all struggle with excuses at various points in our swimming career.
 
The reason they are so tantalizing is simple: they help us cope and rationalize a bad result. 

They justify an outcome, even if the rationalization isn’t accurate or truthful.

 
It allows us to go on with our day without beating ourselves up.
 
Which can be useful.
 
Until it’s not.
 
Why Excuses Are So Easy
We obsess over the results. And because the results are never 100% in our control—the pool temperature, your feel for the water vanishing on you the day of the big race, the whole “other swimmers” thing, plain old luck—there is an element of helplessness that makes excuse-making so easy.

 
Perhaps because we understand that results aren’t controllable we are less reluctant to hold back when it comes to making excuses.
 
It’s easy to blame the world for our ills. It’s easy to feel like we are owed something. And it’s certainly easier to sit back and expect success and not have to take ownership of it.
 
When we lack ownership and accountability in the pool some truly crappy things start to pop up in our swimming: there’s resentment as we see other swimmers excelling (and feel like we are somehow owed it as well), we aren’t as detail-oriented, and we create an environment where mediocrity grows like a weed.
 
But if it’s success you want in the pool, or in life, then you need to wrap your head around the fact that it’s completely on you.
 
Not your coach.
 
Not your parents.
 
Not your friends.
 
You.
 
How to take ownership in the pool
Ownership isn’t just taking responsibility for the results. Getting sour about a result isn’t that hard, to be honest. Go to a swim meet and you will see the frustrated faces among the swimmers in the water at the finish of a race.
 
It’s Monday morning that this frustration and desire to change should show its face. It’s wanting to make a change with the process that is going to create the most change where it matters most (the podium and the scoreboard).
 
It’s taking accountability for your training. For getting enough sleep each night. For doing the details in practice, even when coach isn’t watching.
 
Here are some ways that you can take ownership of your swimming:
 
Check-in with your coach. 
Your coach does more than just give you technical and racing advice. 

They can give you a reality check on how you are performing and training in practice and competition. 

Their perspective and experience give them a unique view on your swimming: ask them for feedback on your training. Spend 10 minutes on Saturday after practice and go over the week. 

Let them know what you liked about the practices. What you didn’t. Ask for constructive feedback. 

The coolest thing you can do in your growth as an athlete (and as a human being) is to be able to dispassionately handle criticism and apply it to your swimming. 

Rank your effort each day in practice. 
This is one of my all-time favorite training hacks. 

Anyone can do it, there’s no learning curve, and it takes no time flat to drop it into your daily routine. 

All ya gotta do is grade your effort each day. Seriously. That’s it. 

Take the 3.2 seconds to write down a 1 out of 10 score for yourself after practice. 

When grading yourself focus completely the effort you brought to the table. Not even necessarily the results, or how you swam compared to other swimmers in the group, or what the pool temp was like. 

For example, a 9/10 would indicate that you did the whole practice with excellent effort and technique, contributed to a positive team culture, and so on.

 
Be a great teammate. 
Swimming, for a lot of us, is an intensely individual sport. With the exception of relays, we compete on our lonesomes. 

For most of our swimming career, the teammate we see the most is the tiled black line. 

This sense of individuality can cause us to think we have to go at it alone in training, as well. We all want to swim in a great environment that is positive and supports our goals: we know that the team will be better for it, and that we will benefit from it as well. 

Don’t wait for other swimmers to take the lead on being a great teammate, do so with no expectation. 

Evaluate your process. 
When I talk to swimmers about ownership, often they will start by owning up to their results. A disappointing race. A successful meet. How they crushed a get-out swim and got the whole group out of practice. (Clutch!) 

Because the results are what we are measured up against in the sport, it’s the first thing we latch onto when trying to take control of our swimming. 

The process, the things you are doing on a day to day basis and therefore a little harder to measure and quantify, is what you should be evaluating. Which, while good intentioned, is a mistake. 

After all, when you master the process, you master your results. 

Not the other way around. 

Each week go over your week of training and look at what you can be doing better within your process. 

There is something else that happens when you take full ownership of your swimming.

 
Confidence.
 
You see, when things feel like they are out of our hands and out of our control, we feel helpless. Our confidence takes a nose dive because we feel adrift.
 
Ownership is more than just standing up and being responsible for your performance in the water, from start to finish…
 
It’s also an empowering tool for confidence.
 
And who doesn’t want themselves a wee bit more of that?
 
See you in the water,
Olivier

THE SELLY SELL

I don’t have enough time...
I don’t know where to start...
I doubt it would work for me...

These are just some of the excuses I hear when it comes to swimmers who aren’t working on their mental training.
In developing Conquer the Pool: The Swimmer’s Ultimate Guide to a High-Performance Mindset, I spoke to over 200 head coaches, Olympians, world record holders and NCAA champions to get their feedback and perspective on the mental struggles of the elite-minded competitive swimmer.

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