Well, Christmas and New Year are over and folks everywhere are sitting back wondering, as always, what the fuss was all about and probably breathing a sigh of relief. Great Aunty Mildred has gone, the Christmas cake has gone (almost) and some semblance of normality is beginning to descend. Routines are being re-established and traditionally it’s a time to reflect, take stock and look to the future.

Photo by Matheus Frade on Unsplash

Magazines and the Internet bulge with articles like “Top Ten Ways To Be Happy In 2022” or “Ten Things Which Will Change Your Life In The Coming Year”, They always seem a little contrived and artificial to me and are often padded out to be far too long. Many make no sense at all in parts. (It’s all a bit like New Year’s celebrations in general really – but maybe that’s me just being very grumpy. Sorry about that). However, my theory is that, if you want to achieve something or improve something, you don’t need to wait until a particular day to start working towards it. Just go for it!

So if, like me, you know there are things you need to improve in your swimming but the date for making NewYear’s Resolutions has passed you by, I offer you my Ten Step Guide to Making A New Resolution Which May Or May Not Have Something To Do With New Year. (I may need to do a bit of work on that title).

1) Be Specific about the improvement you want to make.

Know what you want to do, why you want to do it and by when (it doesn’t have to be by the start of 2023). Write it down, especially the bit about why you want to make this change. Keep that bit of paper where you will see it (it’s why fridge doors are magnetic), and look back at it regularly to keep motivated.

2) Believe That It’s Achievable

I would quite like to swim the English Channel. The only things stopping me are time, money, talent and motivation. I’ve seen what is required to prepare for that swim and I have nothing but admiration for those that take it on. However, I know that, given the choice between a six-hour training swim in the cold Dover waters at 5 am and sitting on a sofa with a nice hot cup of tea then personally I’m off to put the kettle on. It doesn’t make me a bad person, it just makes the rest of you awesome. But it does mean that there’s no point in me putting a Channel swim on my wish list. For me, and maybe you too, I need to find something more realistic. That might be a shorter or slightly easier “Big Swim” or simply mastery of some aspect of your stroke which you know needs improving.

3) Don’t Believe That It’s Achievable

Sometimes the best, indeed the only way forward, is to push ourselves out of our comfort zone; to take on the ridiculous challenge and see where it takes us. With the right motivation and support we are all capable of the most amazing things and who knows what other milestones may be met upon the way? Think big. What do you have to lose?!

4) Decide How You Are Going To Meet Your Goal…Or, If You Don’t, Find Out

The SwimMastery community is packed with friendly, knowledgable and experienced folks who are more than willing to share their expertise. Never be afraid to ask questions either in person or via the online forums no matter how silly you think they may sound. If you need it, you will receive a wealth of valuable advice about the best way to tackle your target from folks who have often been there and done it themselves. If you’re taking on a race or event they will know exactly how to prepare. If you are trying to improve an aspect of your stroke, remember the body is all one connected unit; the solution to the problem you perceive might lie in a different part of the stroke completely. They may well point you in a completely unexpected direction with remarkable results

5) Make A Plan

Break down the path to your success into smaller steps. This can make the overall journey seem far more manageable and will provide built-in mini boosts along the way. Thus, if, say, you want to take four strokes off your time for a given distance, set dates for when you aim to have reduced the count by just one. Or by two etc. Be flexible, life has an inconvenient habit of popping up with competing demands on your time and resources, but nevertheless know what you would like to have ticked off and by when, all things being equal. And, rather like the initial target you set yourself, write your plan down and refer to it often.

6) Be Kind To Yourself

You’re far more likely to achieve your goal if you’re enjoying yourself. That’s self-evident really but make sure you build that enjoyment into your swimming. Mix up your training to provide variety and don’t be afraid to incorporate aspects that may appear to be completely unrelated to where you want to end up. It can be very demoralising to slog away constantly session after session without appearing to make progress so, for example, make sure you also do things that you know you do well already. Remind yourself that you already have the basic skills to become an incredible swimmer. The next advancement is just around the corner. Stay positive!

7) Find A Friend.

One of the joys of swimming is that, for most of us, it is a social and non-competitive activity. Even when entering races, the aim is usually to beat a specific time or PB rather than to worry about our fellow competitors. It should not, therefore, be too tricky to find a companion with whom to share your progress, to provide support and guidance and to take joy and even inspiration from your successes. If you’ve ever seen the support crew on a boat jumping about with genuine delight as a swimmer crosses a finish line or touches a foreign shore, you’ll know what I’m talking about. And that sense of taking pleasure in the success of others can be replicated on a much smaller scale too. Take advantage of it and find a buddy who can give you that extra boost when you need it. You’ll probably find yourself doing the same for them.

8) Have a reward

We all like to have nice things or do nice things, so set yourself a reward for when you get to your target. Be that going on a swimming holiday or just buying a snazzy new costume, big or small, make sure you have your own little pot of gold to open at the end of your rainbow.

9) Set the next target

I don’t know a swimmer alive – there probably isn’t one – who is completely satisfied with the way they swim. Our River of Progress meanders and winds its way through the countryside but never actually reaches the sea. Just around the corner, there is always another challenge to be set and met. So, know where you’re going and be excited about what comes next!

Photo by Martin Sanchez on Unsplash

10). Spurious Final Step

Something else about swimming to make it up to ten.

 

Happy New Year all!

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