5 Things You Must Do to Win an NCAA Championship

Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

By Wayne Goldsmith

The NCAA Championships have come and gone for another year. Again, we marvel at the outstanding performances and remarkable achievements of some of the world’s best swimmers, coaches and swimming teams. But, there’s 5 Things You Must Do to Win an NCAA Championship if you want to join them.

5 Things You Must Do to Win an NCAA Championship


Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

1. Make training more challenging and more demanding than the NCAA Championships ever could be.

One of the biggest mistakes most swimmers and coaches make is that their training environment is less intense and far less challenging than the competition they are preparing for. As a result, when they get to State Champs or NCAAs or the Olympic Games, they are under-prepared to meet the actual demands of the competition.

Winning an NCAA championship title is not just about swimming fast. It’s about swimming fast when…..you’re away from home, you’re tired, under pressure, racing the best in the business, facing considerable media and public scrutiny, swimming in front of thousands of screaming fans and carrying the expectations of friends, team mates, coaches, the college, your family and yourself.

If all you’re doing in preparation for an NCAA championship is swimming fast repeats, early in the soft light of quiet mornings in your home pool in front of three people, a stray dog and a couple of pigeons, then you’re not preparing to win when it really matters.


Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

2. Out-prepare every swimmer you’ll have to race in the NCAA Championships.

Swimming is not just swimming. It’s nutrition and recovery and sleep and dry-land training and core work and flexibility training and time management and….and…and….it’s everything you do.

When it comes to winning an NCAA Championship just training harder than your opposition will not cut it. You need to be committed to eating healthier food, be spending more time on recovery and regeneration, be more focused on your dry-land training, core-work and flexibility training…out-prepare your opposition in everything and in every detail of preparation.

Or put it this way: “The way you do anything is the way you do everything”.

Do you really believe you can eat junk food and drink lots of sodas, get poor quality sleep, skip dry-land workouts and never bother with recovery or flexibility training and still be an NCAA champion? Really? Think again!

Ryan Murphy

Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

3. In every situation you face – in every aspect of your preparation and competition program – choose to do things the Hard Way.

Success is a choice. Everyday, you’re given choices and your success as a swimmer or coach depends on how you respond to these choices.

From the moment your alarm clock goes off: easy way – hit the snooze and go back to sleep…..hard way – get up and get to the pool early.

7 pm that evening: easy way – watch TV until 2 am….hard way – go to bed early, read a book about something you’re passionate about (other than swimming) to relax and get some quality sleep.

It’s the cumulative effect of consistently choosing to do things the hard way – the right way – that will see you standing on the NCAA podium.


Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

4. Set moment goals – make every moment you train and recover – the best it can possibly be.

An NCAA Championships title might be long term goal for you but making it happen depends on what you do right here, right now.

Champions in all sports and in all walks of life set “moment goals”. No matter what the challenge may be, no matter how difficult the situation is, they set goals for themselves to ensure that this moment – this stroke – this lap – this workout – what’s happening in this moment is directly contributing to their dream of an NCAA championship title.

The NCAA championship title you want is right there waiting for you: it’s only a stroke away: this stroke. By focusing on what’s happening right now – by concentrating on the things you’re doing rather than on what you “might do” or you “could do” or you “should do” – by being completely focusing on what you “are doing” that NCAA title – “your” title – comes just that bit little closer.

Simone Manuel Lia Neal 100 free

Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

5. Think, talk and act like you already are an NCAA champion – see the swimmer you want to be.

Imagine what an NCAA champion thinks about. Imagine how they’d talk. How would they act?

Would they skip workouts?

Would they cut a swim set short because they were tired and just had had enough?

Would they lay awake at night worrying about what might happen if they race at NCAAs and come last? Or would they lay in bed, progressively relaxing through deep, slow breathing and focus on getting a great night sleep.

On the way home from workout, would they stop for a big bucket of fast food or would they head home and take responsibility for making a healthy, nutritious meal of quality lean protein, “good” fats and natural, complex carbohydrates?

To be successful as a swimmer or coach at the next level, think, talk and most importantly act like you’re already there.

Being an NCAA Champion starts with the way you think about yourself, how you talk about yourself and how you act in everything you do everyday.

will-licon-texas-ncaa-2015 (18)

Photo Courtesy: Andy Ringgold


So, there it is –  5 Things You Must do if You Want to Win an NCAA Championship title.

However, knowing this stuff doesn’t make you any more an NCAA champion than buying a recipe book makes you a gourmet chef.

Lots of people know this stuff – but, it is only those who are uncompromisingly committed to putting these five tips into action: those who choose to live the lifestyle of a champion – who will turn their NCAA dreams into reality.

What choice will you make?

Wayne Goldsmith


Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick


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