I have often entered races because I needed a new goal. I needed the motivation to get off the sofa and plunge into the cold water. The idea of competing has always been a great stimulus and good reason for training consistently, almost as if it were some kind of medicine that will help me perform at my best on a specific day. Nevertheless, I cannot remember how many times I turned up at a race thinking: “what am I doing here?”.
I think lots of thoughts go through the minds of swimmers of all standards when they are training and when they are racing; often they are negative thoughts telling us that we are not making progress, our swimming technique in a certain stroke is mediocre and that we are not in top shape. In those moments, our “mantra” or, in other words, the repetitive thoughts guiding our actions, is negative and energy-sapping.
I also think a sportsman or woman’s great strength lies in their ability to handle these moments. The sports psychologist Piero Trabucchi claims that: “Keeping motivated is a discipline in itself, an exercise. You need to be resourceful. Motivation is not comparable to desire; or, in any case, it is not just that. It is also the ability to handle discomfort, to put up with it”.
That is why, whenever we ask a champion what the secret is, the answer is either directly or indirectly related to making sacrifices: swimming every day, getting up early in the morning, withstanding physical stress etc.
There is no single recipe to help everybody become a stronger swimmer but, if we want to achieve a certain goal, our mantra needs to be associated with positive thinking, words reminding us that we can do it, that we have the resources to succeed and improve, and that failure or giving up are certainly not an option!
So, even when negativity comes knocking at our door, we will be able to handle it with bravery and discipline.