While there are other swimmers in our lane during training, swimming can be a lonely sport at times. Sometimes we feel good and we get through sets comfortably to a point where we know we can keep pushing the pace and, perhaps, even get a breakthrough workout. At other times, just getting through the first few repetitions of a set can seem to be a struggle.
As we struggle, we can feel like missing that next repetition, doing one less dolphin kick off the wall or cutting short a tumble-turn or two. The longer we can hang in there and do things ‘right’ in a set, the better we get.
Being a good swimmer, setting PBs and winning races is no easy feat, it requires not just turning up every session but, moreover, it requires, doing things ‘right’ every session and toughing it out when it gets hard.
I remember the first time I was thrown into a set of 15 x 100m @1.30 as a junior and thinking that I am not going to make this. I focused on making my turns count and hanging-on for dear life. Not only did I make the set first time, I grew in confidence that I could do it even better next time. There was no going back from that point.
Essentially, it is about gaining self-belief form toughing it out. Once you make it the first time, then you know you have the capacity to do it again, until we stretch for the next goal.
In training, it is good to give yourself little goals as well as big ones. For example, in a set of 20 x 50m @50, break the set into chunks. First get through 5 repetitions, then 10, then 15. Soon enough you will know that you can do 20 – no problem. Remember that while mind will be telling you that you cannot get through it, your body is capable of more than you know.
You just have to tough it out and see what you can do.
Richard is currently Secondary School Principal of Suzhou Singapore International School, one of China's leading international schools. He leads workshops across the Asia-Pacific region for the International Baccalaureate in the areas of pedagogical leadership and approaches to teaching and learning. Richard consults with schools on the topics of school improvement and effective implementation and use of technology.
With a background in public and independent school education in the UK and Australia, Richard is enjoying his international school adventure in China. He is passionate about developing and supporting educational leaders, as it is essential to improving all schools.
Richard is a proud family man and feels lucky to be married to Kim and father of their son Austin.
In his spare time Richard enjoys to swim, bike and run and is a now retired football player and coach (with occasional guest appearances)