Never Been a Better Time
on Your Mindset
Swimming Website: Article By Olivier
Poirier-Leroy//Contirbutor | posted Friday, April 17,
With pools closed
and swim meets canceled, there is a remarkable lack of chlorine in
the air. My swim bag has never been drier, my hair has never less
chlorine-damaged, and I am having swimming dreams on a nearly
But although we are
all experiencing some kind of withdrawal from the pool, and we are
all limited in the kind of physical training we can do, there is
something that can be done to stay sharp.
taking advantage of this golden opportunity to build a stronger,
more focused mindset.
dodged mental training in the past because it seemed confusing. You
didn’t know where to start. Or the all-time chart-topping
classic—not enough time.
Here are three
simple mental training exercises you can do at home to get started
on improving your mindset.
Journal out your most
Swimmers tend to
approach race day with a combination of superstitions and
Now that you have
some time on your hands, it’s worth looking back at the times
where you crushed it and break down what led to those
Grab a piece of
paper and pen and write down quick bullet-points of:
Your mindset on race
day. The emotions you were feeling. Your pre-race routine. The
things you were focused on as the minutes ticked away until you
raced like a chlorinated monster. Where your mind was at while you
were swimming—blank? “In the zone”?
Being aware of what
doesn’t help is key too!
didn’t go well, when you under-performed or choked or left
the pool dissatisfied, what was your mindset like on those
occasions? Were you distracted by other swimmers? Getting caught up
by the expectations of others? Simply unprepared?
With these two
columns of notes you will have a blueprint for the mindset and
emotional state that works best for you.
blueprint gives you a target, something to work towards in training
and as you get closer to competition.
We all use
visualization in some degree. Generally, it is in a disorganized
manner, daydreaming about false-starting during class or picturing
your scary competition swimming scarier than ever.
But visualization is
a powerful tool that you can use for everything from improving
technique to building self-confidence. It’s no wonder
countless Olympians from Michael Phelps to Katie
Ledecky use visualization as part of their
Here are some tips
for making your visualizations more real:
environment. The bright lights of the pool. Your coach standing on
the pool deck, heat sheets rolled tightly in his hand. The tiles at
the bottom of the pool. The black line whizzing by. The flex in the
bulkhead when you push off.
Hit all your
senses. The smell of chlorine. The gritty texture of the block
under your feet. The chilly pool water when you dive in. The
churning ball of pre-race nerves in your belly. The adrenaline as
you march out onto the pool deck.
performance cues to “feel” your race. Write out
performance cues for each stage of your race and use them to guide
your visualization. For example, you could use the cue,
“Explode!” for the start. Visualize yourself exploding
out of the start. Same for the first 25 or 50, where the
performance cue may be “Easy speed!” Use this cue to
visualize yourself with easy speed.
king. Banging out a couple quick visualization reps and then
dropping it won’t help you improve. Treat it like a skill.
The more you do it, the better you will be able to control the
outcome of your mental imagery, and the deeper they will sink into
your brain (making them feel more and more like “real”
Gratitude journal and
We are going through
strange, surreal times. The roads are deserted, pools are
shuttered, and there is a very real fear that we or someone we care
about will become ill. The stress and uncertainty and feeling of
helplessness can become crippling.
An antidote is to
regularly exercise gratitude.
To be clear,
gratitude—feeling appreciation for things in your
life—is not the same as pretending everything is fine and
The road ahead is
going to be difficult.
prepares you for adversity by keeping your mind clear and unclouded
from excess stress and anxiety.
When we are able to
give things perspective, and make more rational decisions, we are
better equipped to meet the challenges and hardships ahead.
Tonight, as you are
sitting in the quiet of your bedroom, open a text file on your
phone, crack a notebook, open your journal, and write out a couple
things you are grateful for.
You might not be
able to go to the pool and crank out the laps like you used
But you can do
something to stay mentally sharp and prime yourself for when life
returns to some sort of normal and swimming re-enters your life,
and that’s investing time into building a healthy and
Olivier Poirier-Leroy is a former
national level swimmer and Olympic Trials qualifier. He is the
Pool: The Swimmer’s Ultimate Guide to a High-Performance
Mindset. He also publishes a weekly motivational
newsletter for competitive swimmers and coaches. You can
subscribe here for free.