lot of swimmers have a serious misconception about faster swimmers,
whether those are their teammates or opponents. If you get in the
bad habit of carrying around this misconception with you, then it
will undermine your confidence, lead you to get easily psyched out
pre-race and create repetitive performance problems for you. What
I speak of?
Viewing faster swimmers as a threat to you who will
interfere with you going fast and prevent you from achieving your
For example, several years ago I worked with a 16-year-old swimmer
who changed teams in the middle of her season because her family
had to relocate to another state for her dad's new job. Within a
week of Susan being on this new team, it became very clear that she
was by far, the fastest swimmer in the senior group. Five of her
new teammates, who had felt displaced by Susan's speed, didn't hide
their resentment of her. In fact, even their mothers joined in to
make Susan feel quite unwelcomed on the team. Susan's new teammates
even had the audacity to confront her a few weeks later and
resentfully tell her, “You're the reason we'll probably not
get our zone cuts!”
Their faulty belief about Susan was quite obvious. If another
swimmer is faster than you, then they are a primary obstacle and
threat to you reaching your own goals. It's as if another swimmer's
success will directly take away from your own success. Not only is
this belief false, but the exact opposite is actually
true. The faster your teammates and opponents
are than you, the better opportunity YOU have to grow and develop
as a swimmer. Simply put, with the proper
attitude, faster swimmers will always make you a much better
However, this can never happen if you spend too much mental energy
thinking about and focusing on other swimmers in practice or at
meets. In fact, this is the main reason that a swimmer will get
psyched and intimidated before races. They don't “stay in
their own lane” so-to-speak. Instead, they allow their focus
of concentration to drift to the other swimmer and thoughts about
how good this individual might be. As a result, they get far too
nervous and physically tight to swim to their potential.
Try to keep in mind that faster swimmers, when viewed in the right
way, will help you reach your goals in the pool. As your
“training partner,” they will inspire and motivate you
to keep working hard. They will lift your level of performance.
They will model what it takes to be successful. They will show you
what's possible! So rather than comparing yourself with these
better athletes and killing your self-confidence in the process,
carefully study them. Look at how they train. Examine how they take
interact with the coaches. Allow yourself to learn from them. View
them positively as someone who can help you get better and faster.
And if you race against these individuals and lose, or if they
easily make the intervals while you struggle and fail to, try to
refrain from emotionally beating yourself up. Try to stay positive
and curious. Ask yourself, “What are they doing that I'm not?
What did I do that held me back? What do I need to do differently?
Is there anything that I can learn from these swimmers for next
Remember, faster swimmers will always help, NOT hurt your
development as an athlete. They are your most important training
partners. They will help you reach your dreams. They should NEVER
be viewed as a threat or an obstacle towards your goals.