So I've noticed this phenomenon in triathlon, and I also noticed it when I was a graduate student in the Mathematics department at the University of Colorado. Whenever I told people that I was pursuing a graduate degree in Mathematics people's responses never deviated from one of these two statements:
"Oh, I loved math when I was in school"
"I sucked at math in school"
That was it!!! Never a "Good for you"...okay well one time my aunt said "good for you" but then she followed it up with "I was never any good at math in school." HA!
So, I see the same thing in in triathlon with swimming. It's either:
"I'm a shitty swimmer, it's my weakness, I suck a swimming"
I love swimming, it's my favorite...and usually then they say "I swam in High School"
(to which I suppress my jealousy)
It's one or the other, nothing in between. The thing is, in order to morph into someone who says "I love swimming" you are going to have to do a lot of swimming. Now, you can fake it until you make it, I've gone that route, try it on, it may fit for you, or....you can use some life hacks to get yourself to the pool over and over again. Here are my top 7.
ONE) Swim Workouts matter. DO FUN SWIM WORKOUTS. There are boring ones and there are exciting ones. What is boring for you, is exciting for someone else. We have two atheltes here at RTTC who are both very high caliber swimmers, both distance swimmers in their hay day....and they have completely opposite taste. We will give a session to one of them because the other one loves it, and they hate it. TASTE MATTERS. Not all swims are fun (for you). Find the fun ones, and do those.
TWO) Make Swimming Matter to you. GIVE IT MEANING. For many of our athletes who love swimming they talk about swimming as being that place where they can relax, tune out, just swim, not think, etc. Coach Audra said the other day "It's the one place I can't look at my phone." Assign swimming a purpose in your life, the pool can be where you go to find your calm, or where you go to get a tan. Make swimming work hard to keep your love by giving it a purpose beyond the first sport in a race you do a few times a year.
THREE) Gear Matters. GET GEAR YOU SO TOTALLY LOVE. Don't buy the black snorkel, buy the PINK snorkel!! Be the girl or guy that gets made fun of because you have 18 different pairs of goggles hanging off your swim bag. If your buoy, or paddles, or fins don't work for you, please buy a different pair and experiment, or better yet, buy three different pairs. The more you love your gear, and your swim bag, and the stuff in it, the more you are going to look forward to the pool. Also, use a sharpie to decorate your swim gear. Even putting your kids initials on your pool buoy, or your goals, can make a big difference in your swim.
FOUR) People Matter. FIND A PACK OR MAKE ONE. No great entrepreneur got to where they are without a stellar mastermind group, and no swimmer landed in "I love swimming" land without a pod at some point in their life. You don't need a lot of swimmers in your pack/pod/crew, a few will do. The people you associate yourself with in swimming are going to make or break you. Then, work to become a contributing member of your swim pod. Plan a night out with a few to socialize without your caps and goggles on. A glass or two of wine or a coffee and biscotti can help forge a deeper bond that keeps you accountable to each other.
FIVE) Racing matters. DO A SWIM EVENT FOR FUN. There is nothing that will strike fear in you and drive you to the swimming pool on a regular basis than signing up for a swim meet. Even if it's one single event, in one single swim meet, you will make the pool a priority due to FOLD (similar to FOMO, but fear of looking dumb). You won't actually look dumb (there are all ages and abilities at most all swim meets) but it will keep you honest. If this scares the bananas out of you, sign up for an open water race....no starting blocks at those!
SIX) Help matters. FIND FORM HELP STAT. There are places like Swim Labs cropping up all over the US and these places are making a difference in athletes swim ability, speed and MOJO every day. Find someone to check in on your swim form with every 6-8 weeks that will keep you working towards progress, which will keep you in the pool more often and for longer. PSA announcement, many triathlon coaches are pretty busy writing your schedule and making everything work with your life, that personalized swim form coaching is a bit above and beyond the scope of their coaching. At RTTC we have a traveling goPro that makes it's way to athletes to record their stroke and send it back to us where we provide tips and pointers, but nothing can compare to specialized one on one swim form help.
SEVEN) Stretch goals matters. CHALLENGE SOMEONE TO A DUEL. The entire inspiration for this post came from the fact that Coach Audra and I created a two person pool challenge between her and I to keep us motivated and excited. I'm so motivated to kick her butt and be the winner, that I totally forgot it's going to get me to the pool more often. Our challenge entails a combination of yardage swam, numbers of swims a week, and social media sharing (so Audra will lose and I will win). There must always be a prize involved, and public shaming of your opponent is allowed :)
If you find yourself in the "I suck at swimming" camp, then it's time to get busy my friends. Life is too short to hate parts of what you love, and we all have a certain fondness for this lovely sport we compete in. I leave you with this, how would it feel to stand on the start line of that next triathlon, and instead of dread + anxiety + fear, you actually feel a sense of excitement + thrill + anticipation. Make it so....
Psssttttt... We may be in the process of building a 7-day swim challenge FREE for ALL. Or we may not!!! Stay tuned!