7 Essential Steps to Go from Local Pool to Podium
It’s that exciting time again. The Olympics are almost upon us! Every four years, people across nations gather around to watch the best of the best compete in their sports. It’s entertaining, motivating, and inspiring. If you watch the likes of Katie Ledecky, Simone Manuel, and Caeleb Dressel and imagine yourself swimming for your country in some future Olympics, here’s a bit of insight into what it takes to get to the top of your game:
1. Start Early
If you dream of standing on the Olympic podium, you want to start swimming early! Getting to the Olympic level takes years of training and hard work, and starting early will give you the time you need to become a champion. Learning as a child will also help ensure you develop proper technique from early on. (Unlearning bad habits can be difficult!)
2. Be Passionate
Becoming an Olympic swimmer takes time, dedication, and sacrifice. The people who make it to the very top of the swimming game are all different, but they share one thing in common. They all love the sport. Swimming is their passion, and the hours of hard work are worth it because it’s what they want to do. If swimming is your passion, follow those dreams, and you could be the next US swimmer proudly displaying a gold medal!
3. Identify Your Strengths
Are you interested in long-distance swimming, or are you more of a sprinter in the pool? Whatever you gravitate toward, figure out where your natural strengths are, and then you can tailor and specialize your training to hone those innate skills.
4. Work Hard
This one seems obvious, but it’s worth noting. Becoming an Olympian isn’t easy! It takes commitment and dedication to the sport. (Just check out some of what US female swimming phenom Katie Ledecky goes through for her training.)
It’s early morning practice sessions before school. It’s repetition, repetition, repetition. It’s getting out there and doing it. Every day.
While it’s easy to think getting to the Olympics is all about talent, this only takes you so far. Does talent help? Sure. But without disciplined practice, even the most naturally talented swimmers will start to get lapped in the pool by those who consistently put in the work.
5. Be Willing to Challenge Yourself
A lot of good swimmers are happy dominating at a given level. They enjoy winning every race and putting more and more distance between them and the competition.
A great swimmer, however, isn’t afraid to take that next step and to compete in races that aren’t sure things. Great swimmers are always pushing themselves against harder competition, and they’re always setting increasingly ambitious goals for themselves. If you want to be the best, you can’t be afraid to continually test yourself against better and better competition.
6. Learn from Your Losses (and Your Competition)
Competing against better swimmers helps you learn new techniques, training methods, and insights into the sport. Being exposed to many people can help you incorporate lots of elements into your own training, not just the advice and mentality of your current trainers. This greatly improves your chances of continued success and growth.
Competing against better swimmers also offers the valuable opportunity to experience losses. Often, people who ultimately become champions learn more from a loss than a win. They learn resilience and determination, and they learn one of the most important lessons of all: no one is perfect, and there’s always more work to be done!
7. Find a Balance, and Have Fun
As much as hard work is the biggest ingredient to success, it’s also important not to overdo it. Overtraining can lead to injuries or simple burnout. If you’re not having fun and loving the sport while you’re training, you’re simply not going to last long.
Take breaks. Have a life and interests outside swimming. Find the balance that works for you. The right amount of training varies from swimmer to swimmer. There is no one magic formula. It’s about discovering the balance that allows you to achieve your lofty swimming goals!