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The latest articles from Olivier Leroy:
Why Not You???
Over the couple of years that I have been writing for SwimSwam I have received a significant amount of email from readers of my articles.
Many of them seek advice, while others reach out to share stories about their own swimming journey.
In this heap of correspondence I have read stories of hope, of frustration, of success and of failure, but there is perhaps nothing that drives me to react more viscerally than a variation of the following:
“I have goal to win a medal at nationals but my teammates and parents don’t think I can do it.”
Look, I fully appreciate and understand the need to be moderately realistic with the goals you set.
(When I was a kid I wanted to be a Transformer. That didn’t quite pan out.)
But what I don’t understand is people telling someone that they simply cannot do something.
(Or worse yet, laugh...)
Tell them what it will take, sure, explain to them in gruesome detail all the work it will take to accomplish this goal...
The superhuman commitment and dedication required to achieve superhuman feats in the pool...
But to flat-out tell a swimmer they cannot do something they dream about makes my blood boil.
In replying to these emails I generally ask the swimmer a simple question: “Why not you?”
Today a swimmer will dare to dream a little bit bigger.
Why not you?
The dedication and steps that are necessary to drop 3 seconds from your best time are the same that are required to drop 5 seconds. With high aspirations comes more effort, so why not stretch what you want to accomplish a little further?
Big dreams require more work. They require fearlessness to overcome the small thinking of those around you (and all too often yourself). And they require you to adjust what you think is possible.
In the words of Tom Hardy’s character Eames in the film Inception, “You mustn’t be afraid to dream a little bigger, darling.”
Today a swimmer will decide that they will make the full commitment necessary to achieve their goals.
Why not you?
It can be frightening to go whole-heartedly after something you crave dearly. All sorts of doubts and fears plague you not only at the outset, but at every junction and step along the way.
Setbacks and errors will be overly scrutinized, somehow symbolic of a greater conspiracy for you to not achieve big things.
Similarly, many swimmers hold themselves back because they don’t feel completely ready to charge forward, waiting for the moment that they are 100% prepared. Opportunity and life does not wait for you.
If you sit around waiting for that fictionalized moment where the stars align, where things are just right, than you will not only be waiting a painfully long time, but the opportunities that are before you now will float by.
Today a swimmer will do it a little bit better than they did yesterday.
Why not you?
Success in the pool, and any endeavor in life, is a result of making small gains, barely perceptible gains, those 1% improvements, consistently over the long haul.
When we watch others succeed in a grand, sudden moment of epicness we come to believe that this is how change is applied with our training as well; big, sweeping, dramatic moments of uprooting change.
In reality it’s not like that at all. It’s the constant application of making yourself a little bit better every time you jump into the pool. Bit by bit, inch by inch.
Today a swimmer will decide to have better habits in the pool.
Why not you?
Our habits are the foundation of our swimming.
From whether or not we get up for morning to practice, to exercising good nutritional consumption, to maintaining technique when fatigued, the myriad of habits we have in the pool forms the swimmer that gets up on the blocks come meet time. These habits can become such second-nature to the point that we don’t even think about them anymore.
Deciding to use this power of automaticity for the betterment of your swimming is the closest you will get to putting success on auto-pilot.
When doing the tough thing, the hard thing, the right thing, becomes second nature those big scary goals will begin to crumble before you.
Today a swimmer will help others succeed.
Why not you?
It’s understandable that as a high flying athlete you get caught up in your own swimming.
You have a lot of things on your plate, after all.
Between the two-a-days, cramming in work and school, and achieving the amount of rest and endless eating to make this all possible, it is easy to lose sight of the passion you have for the sport.
An easy way to get back in touch with why you love the sport is by giving back.
Spend a few minutes working with one of the youngsters on your team.
(They look up to you more than you know.)
Encourage a teammate that is having a tough workout. Be the one who steps up and makes the training environment one that is more enjoyable for everyone.
These things may seem trivial, but they can go a long way in not only deepening the passion you have for the sport, but also in developing a place for you and your teammates that fosters success.
You were built to do some great stuff. Whether you do it or not is up to you. Not your coach, not your parents, not your friends.
Instead of looking at the swimmers around you doing big things with their swimming look in the mirror and ask...
“Why not me?”
The Lies we tell Ourselves at the Pool
The big ‘mo.
Surely you’ve experienced it at one time or another.
You put together a couple awesome workouts in the pool, and you can’t help but feel a growing surge of power at your back, as though the accumulated positivity and accomplishment in recent days is pushing you forward and onward.
But then what happens?
We slacken off. We miss a day.
And then we start back at square one, picking up the pieces, trying to get back to that place we just were.
It’s kind of infuriating, no?
Sometimes the reasons that we take both our feets off of the accelerator are out of our control. Injury. Illness. House of Cards season 3 comes out.
But a lot of the time, it is because of the mental wizardry that we use against ourselves.
Here are 3 of the goofy lies that we (a.k.a. “I”) ply ourselves with that arrest the big ‘mo dead in its tracks…
I did good yesterday, so I can take it easy today.
This is something I prefer to call the cupcake fallacy (I don’t have much of a sweet tooth, but I will fully admit to being uncontrollable around cupcakes), and it is something that makes us feel good about the poor decisions we are about to make.
Here are a couple examples…
I swam super duper awesome yesterday, so that means I can totally slack off today.
I ate really well over the weekend, so I can dive head first into this box of cupcakes guilt-free.
I am planning on doing really good tomorrow, so I can totally do whatever today.
This is the previous lie’s ugly step-sister. Just in the future. (All of the step-sisters and step-brothers are ugly. Smooth talkers, though.)
We justify not giving a full effort, or giving the practice at hand our full attention by promising that in the future we will do so much better.
But rarely, if ever, does this happen. (Tomorrow you’ll say the same thing, or come up with a different excuse.)
Do you recognize any of these…
I am not feeling totally up to it, but I am sure I will be tomorrow.
My stroke doesn’t feel as good as I want it to today, but tomorrow—no matter what!—I will give a killer effort at practice.
It’s just one workout.
Is it, though?
How many times have you caught yourself saying that?
Just once, right?
Nope. That is incorrect.
It might only seem like once, but I promise you that the “just one time’s!” have accumulated up to being something sizable.
Because it is only “one workout” it doesn’t seem like much, and might seem close to the point of meaningless, but the sum total of times you use this excuse can add up to something very substantial indeed. (Every time I use the word "indeed" it makes me feel 6 IQ points smarter. Fact!)
Ultimately, just “one workout” probably won’t make much of a difference. But the routine of showing up every day is massive.
What are the goofy reasons you come up with to avoid maintaining the big ‘mo in the pool?
See you at the pool,
9 Things You Know to be True if You Started Swimming Later than Everyone Else
This resource stems from a Case Study found in the “What Do You Do When?” chapter of Jim Thompson’s book, Elevating Your Game.
I work out year-round and lift weights regularly, but I can’t keep up with a couple of my teammates who have added a lot of muscle in a very short time. I suspect they are using steroids. Why shouldn’t I use them since I am at a competitive disadvantage without them?
Performance-enhancing drugs are cheating, and Triple-Impact Competitors® don’t cheat. They live up to their own standards (the S in ROOTS stands for Self) even when others don’t. There will always be cheaters in every aspect of life. Sometimes they get caught; sometimes they get away with it, at least for a while.
But cheaters always pay a price. For example, steroids have severe negative health impacts including hair loss, shrinking testicles, angry mood swings, sleep problems, nausea and vomiting, high blood pressure, greater chance of muscle injuries, aching joints, jaundice, shortening of adult height, and acne.
But the main thing to remember is that as important as it is to do well in your sport, as a Triple-Impact Competitor, cheating is not part of who you are.
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Final Champs Month Question: Martin Strel is a 60 year old Slovenian long-distance swimmer, best known for swimming the entire length of various rivers. Strel holds successive Guinness World Records for swimming the Danube river, the Mississippi River, the Yangtze River, and the Amazon River. What is his motto?
Swimmers who have answered correctly: Victoria McArthur, Jeffrey McArthur, Connor Guidera, Lance Rombro, Natasha Elliott, Owen Schulze, Matthew Arter, Ryan Miller
Last Week's Answer: Snorkel
Winner will be determined by a random drawing from all of the correct answers submitted.