January 27, 2021
6 Ways To Be A Successful Swimmer (and Person) In 2021 BY Jesse Marsh
This past year has been a challenging one for all of us, and the coronavirus pandemic continuing to wreak havoc across the globe does not bode well for early 2021. With that in mind, being optimistic about reaping success next year can be difficult.
Here are six ways to set yourself up for success and continued growth in and out of the pool, despite the circumstances.
1. Be Patient
Many swimmers have lacked regular or consistent pool access since the COVID-19 shutdown. The most important thing to remember once practice schedules get back to normal is to be patient. It is normal to feel horrible in the water at first, and it may take weeks or even months to get back to pre-pandemic shape. Don’t get hung up on not hitting the times posted in practice before last March. It will come after a few weeks of hard work under a stable training regimen.
2. Have a positive attitude/mindset
Training will continue to be different in 2021 for most swimmers. Coaches may want to make up for lost training time with long, boring aerobic sets. Additionally, due to COVID-19, meets could still be scarce for the first half of the new year. Continuous practice without competition can get quite frustrating and demotivating. It is crucial to recognize that a negative attitude is contagious and can lead to low team morale. Have the same mindset for 10x800s negative split as you would for a 25 off the blocks. Remember, your coach knows best and wants you to have a successful season, and their training methods are preparing you for such.
The last few months have been tough for everyone. It is understandable to be frustrated at the lack of training, progression, and competition. Talking to your coaches and teammates and letting them know how you feel can be beneficial to your season in the long run. Expressing your concerns allows your coach and team to figure out the best ways to help and support you. While coaches may be superhuman with the work they do and the long hours they put in, they cannot read minds.
4. Be innovative
Navigating 2020 has required continually thinking outside the box. Nothing is constant with the pandemic. Practice is normal one day, then the next day, pools are shut down for a month. Are you going to let all that training you did over the past couple of weeks or months go to waste? Find a way to keep active, and don’t let adversities slow down your progress. Whether it’s buying a resistance cord and finding a small pool to practice in or doing dryland sessions over zoom with your teammates, get creative. As New York Times bestselling author and entrepreneur Ryan Blair says, “if it’s important, you’ll find a way. If it’s not, you’ll find an excuse.” Finding alternative ways to keep in shape will not only make your return to practice smoother, but it is a perfect way to keep your daily structure.
5. Prioritize your mental health
Staring at a computer screen all day, socially distanced swim practices, and lack of human interaction can all have detrimental effects on one’s mental health. If you feel overwhelmed by everything that is going on, don’t hesitate to reach out to your coach. Suggest a day or two off at different points in the season to refocus and reset. Don’t be afraid to take a step back from the sport for a short period if you find it is negatively affecting your mental health. Your mental and physical health always comes first.
6. Have fun
Probably the most important one of them all. This year, more than ever, having fun is paramount to a successful season. 2021 does not promise meets or practices, so whenever you can get into the pool or be with your teammates, cherish it and have fun. Swimming is not just about winning a state championship, getting a college scholarship, or winning an Olympic gold medal, it is about creating life-long friendships and unforgettable experiences. Swimming in the middle of a pandemic can be boring and demotivating, but emphasizing fun allows the difficult time to be enjoyable. If 2020 has taught us anything, it is to cherish the moments with the people you love, doing what you love, because you can lose the opportunity to do so in an instant.