Living a Balanced Swim Life

Living a Balanced Swim Life

With the new season just around the corner, and it, potentially, being a big one I thought it was important to share this with you.

This is a copy of a post by Will Jonathan//Contributor  | Wednesday, August 14, 2019

The link to the original article is here

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teamlarne

 

It was Allison Schmitt, an 8-time Olympic medalist for Team USA, who said a very important swim-quote that I think all swimmers need to really listen to and absorb. She said:

“Swimming is such a small part of life. Yes, I love it. But at the end of the day, it’s just a sport. Whether you finish first or last, you’re still loved by the same people, and you still are who you are.”

A perspective like this isn’t always very-well accepted within competitive sport, even swimming. The common perception is that, to be successful in something, one must treat the sport as if it were their very existence—the sole reason they wake up each day and the absolute most important thing in their life. It has to be an obsessive passion. While having a passion for swimming is certainly an important, and even necessary, ingredient to excel at it and do well, even too much passion is a bad thing.

Psychologically, there are two different forms of passion. And, these two different forms of passion comprise what is called The Dualistic Model of Passion. Let’s take a look at these two different forms of passion, and we’ll start with the first one:

Obsessive Passion – When your passion for swimming becomes all-consuming. You have difficulty pulling yourself away from the sport, and your identity as a person is tied to your swimming. It is fueled by external motivators and an unhealthy desire for external success/material success.

Scientific research on the effects of obsessive passion are well-documented and thoroughly studied, and have yielded the following results:

  • Tying your sense of validation and self-worth to the results of your swimming.
  • Becoming more passionate about the results of your swimming rather than the pleasure and fulfillment of swimming itself.
  • Developing an extremely harsh and debilitating self-criticism towards yourself and your swimming.
  • Failures & setbacks are seen as personal attacks against you rather than simply obstacles to overcome.
  • An unhealthy, never-satisfied attitude for more; more medals, more records, and more validation.
  • A far-greater tendency to consider cheating or other forms of unethical behavior in order to attain external success, no matter the cost.

Obsessive Passion is passion taken too far, and it can lead to these kinds of negative side-effects that breed an extremely unhealthy mindset and will inevitably lead a swimmer down the path to physical and mental burnout and walking away from the sport.

However, as I mentioned previously, passion is still a necessary ingredient for performing well and succeeding. So, how does one have a passion for swimming, while at the same time, not allow that passion to devolve into something that’s all-consuming? By cultivating what is called Harmonious Passion:

Harmonious Passion – When your passion for swimming is in a healthy, balanced state. You’re able to disconnect yourself from the sport when necessary and your identity/self-worth as a human being isn’t tied to your swimming. It is driven by internal motivators and healthy desire for both external success and internal fulfillment.

Just like with Obsessive Passion, the effects of Harmonious Passion are thoroughly studied and well-documented, and yield the following results:

  • You become more interested in the joy and satisfaction the activity of swimming itself gives you rather than the external rewards it can give you.
  • You increase your overall levels of happiness, health, and overall life satisfaction.
  • You’re much more likely to continue in the sport over a prolonged period of time and are far less likely of experiencing physical or mental burnout.
  • You experience greater internal fulfillment from your growth and improvement as a swimmer.
  • You’re able to voluntarily pull yourself away from swimming when necessary and have a life outside of swimming.
  • Your sense of self-worth and personal validation is not tied to the results, rewards, outcomes, or goals you achieve or don’t achieve in swimming.

THIS is the kind of passion you want to have as a swimmer – the kind of passion that gives you the emotional drive and commitment to perform and succeed, while at the same time, providing the mental and physical balance you need to maintain a healthy, happy mindset and not burn yourself out.

If you think your passion towards swimming is a bit too all-consuming and leaning more towards the obsessive side of passion, here are some things you can do to help foster a more Harmonious Passion towards your swimming moving forward:

1. Use Positive Language Towards Your Swimming.

We’ve all heard phrases like, “Ugh, I HAVE to go to practice at 6am tomorrow morning” or “I HAVE to get my dry-land work in this afternoon”. It may seem like no big deal, but the language being used here really can make a difference. When you tell yourself you have to do something, it gives off the implication that you’re having to force yourself to do it against your will, and the moment swimming starts to feel like something you have to force yourself to do rather than something you want to do, you’re in trouble.

Instead, be mindful of the kind of language you’re using when talking about swimming and try to transition to phrases that are more positive and empowering. For example, instead of saying, “Ugh, I HAVE to go to practice at 6am tomorrow morning”, switch that to, “I can’t wait to go to practice tomorrow morning” or “Tomorrow morning, I get to go to practice and continue improving at this sport I love.” That’s a BIG difference, and will allow swimming to feel like something you choose to do rather than something you feel like something you have to forceyourself to do.

2. Leave Swimming At The Pool.

I cannot stress too much just how important this one is. It’s so easy, when you’ve had a bad day at the pool, to drag that home with you and let it have a negative effect on the rest of your day, and sometimes beyond that. As a consequence, you suffer, the people around you suffer, and your levels of happiness suffer. When you’re done with swimming for the day, especially after a really bad day at the pool, always make sure to leave your swimming at the pool. Disconnect from it as best as you can and don’t carry that baggage home with you. When a practice or meet is finished for the day, leave it behind you and allow yourself to enjoy the other areas and people of your life outside of the sport without constantly dragging swimming around with you.

3. Have Other Hobbies & Do Other Things That Aren’t Swimming Related.

One of my swimming clients loves to read about ancient history in her time away from the pool. One of my other swimming clients loves to go kayaking when he’s not swimming. Justin Ress, a US National Team member and former swimmer for NC State, loves to play Fortnite and stream it on Twitch. Caeleb Dressel, one of the best swimmers on the planet, loves to play Mario Kart! Whatever it is you love to do, it doesn’t matter. It’s simply important that you have something outside of swimming that you can enjoy doing and allow yourself to use as a mechanism to help you disconnect from swimming. This helps to keep your motivation levels sustained and does a really great job at staving off burnout.

Love your swimming. Be committed to it, be disciplined, be dedicated, and give it absolutely everything you can. Be passionate about it. However, balance those out by always remembering the following: You are not a swimmer. You’re a human being that swims. That distinction is very, very important. You’re not just a swimmer. You’re a valuable, amazing human being that does swimming. As Allison Schmitt said, it’s an important part of your life, but it’s only part of your life.

 

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Season 2019 – a snapshot

Its been a while since I put anything on this……but its gonna be a big year and I thought I’d get back on it again. So to get us up and running this is a copy of an article posted in Larne Times last week.

 

July 2018 and the focus of Irish swimming was firmly on the National Aquatic Centre in Dublin. Larne swimming club was no different to any other club.

It is safe to say that for the small regional club the meet didn’t go as planned. Team ambassador Danielle Hill dislocated her elbow in the warm-up on day 2 and was unable to compete. The team struggled to compete as their talisman was sent home.

Danielle would subsequently be told that she needed surgery, an operation that would mean no swimming at all for 4 months.

As the rest of the team got back to training in late August with sessions in Larne’s Tower Leisure Centre and essential part of the necessary training program. The staff and Councils willingness to facilitate the club is invaluable.

Danielle started on the road to recovery. The S & C team and physio in SINI (sports institute Northern Ireland) and the doctors at Ulster Rugby got to work rebuilding the elbow.

At Christmas, while many of their peers where relaxing this dedicated group gave up their holidays and went on a residential camp. Foundation movement skills, mindfulness, sports psych and nutritional workshops where the order of the day along with double swim sessions every day.

By January Danielle had started to swim a little, slowly and with some very basic movements but still – swimming. The squad rallied around her and helped to keep her moral high as frustration started to grow (and more than a little impatience).

A trip to compete in Lisbon and this group of young athletes started to galvanize as a team. Our #Teamlarne is more than just empty words, this group is a team in an individual sport, they support each other and push each other to exceed their own expectations.

At Irish Nationals in April – rehab complete and confidence high (despite a forced switch to the 50 free from the 100 back due to a potential weakness in the elbow) but with only 10 weeks of work, Danielle set a new Irish Senior Record in the 50 BC and lowered her person best in the 100BC but ultimately missed out in her bid to qualify for the world university games in the summer.

TEAM

The re-set button was pressed and the focus set on Irish Summer Nationals, a competition that the club has traditionally had around 6 swimmers competing in recent years. This year – 19 athletes travelled to Dublin, a signal that this is a club moving forwards in a big way.

Day one and up stepped Ben Woodside, 16, in the 100 breaststroke. The 1st swim of a meet can set the tone for the whole team and Ben didn’t let us down, breaking the Ulster Junior record – a fantastic swim.

BEN NATIONALS

Day two and Danielle stepped up breaking the Irish Senior Record in the 50 free and Ben went again in the 200 Breast taking a second Ulster Junior record. Day three and yet again Danielle steps up and smashes her own record in the 50 Back setting a time that would have taken a silver in the world university games and placed 11th in the world championships. There was still more to come on day 4 with both the 100 free and 100 back being Northern Ireland very own Iron Lady Danielle decided to race both, the 100 free say record 3 fall to Danielle breaking Sycerika McMahons 2013 record which had been set at the world championships. Incredibly, in a first for Irish swimming, Danielle set her 4th Irish Senior Record of the meet in the 100Back a record held by Aisling Cooney (another Olympian).

DANIELLE

Finals by James Strutt (in his 1st national event), Jamie Clements and Ellie Falls and a silver medal for the mixed medley relay team of Jamie, Ben, Ellie and Danielle rounded of the best national meet for the Larne Swim team.

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The support team surrounding this team is incredible, Nutrition from Julianne Larkin, the many S&C coaches utilising their expertise, the physios the sports psychologists and the coaching staff in Larne Swim Club working together to support each athlete to achieve their goals. Of course the facilities managers and owners are also a huge part of the success and need to be thanked, Larne Leisure Centre, Belfast Royal Academy, Crossfit Castrum, Peak Performance, Julianne Larkin Nutrition Sports Institute Northern Ireland and the University of Ulster.