Finding Motivation in this Uncertain and Stressful Environment

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Finding Motivation in this Uncertain and Stressful Environment

By Daniel Zeng, Swimming World Intern

As another swim season comes to a close, many teams are barred from traditional championship meets. Hours or days of crowded spaces are ideally avoided while a disease continues to affect the world. Club and college championships are either not occurring or will go on with fewer numbers/teams and no spectators, at the very least. Anything really could happen in the near future in this constantly unpredictable world. 

Fewer regular-season meets, attended by several teams, hinder chances of posting official times, possibly under required qualifying-time standards. Even with officials officiating a team’s intrasquad, the competitiveness will be impeded without familiar foes on different teams racing alongside. 

Numerous swimmers are certainly feeling unmotivated to swim, as their regular seasons were not very regular. Goals have become harder to set or have vanished altogether. Besides, these are the people with pools open around them.

Many programs have had an abnormal season, if any at all, due to the pandemic. A number of swimmers have not been near a pool since lockdowns were put in place a year ago, meaning no practices with their team. Encouraging yourself to get to the pool might not be so difficult since the routine is already ingrained in you, but training near the level of your normal practices is quite straining. Even if you’ve been able to get a lane, most likely no one else is next to you to push you and it likely has been a short one-hour slot. 

No teammates swimming alongside, behind, or in front. No coach hollering at you to make the intervals. No one keeping you accountable at maintaining a decent effort level. No guilty feelings leaving the wall well after you were supposed to. 

Swimmers have had to take weeks or months off swimming. No one is saying they lost the love for swimming, but so much time out of the pool makes some forget how the water makes them feel. Maybe some have started to drift apart from the sport.

If you are searching for motivation to keep swimming, read on!

Swim For Yourself!

Swim because you love the sport. If you have access to a pool, swim to stand by a valued piece of your life. A piece teeming with plentiful memories, opportunities, skills, friends, good habits, joy, peace of mind, victories, defeats, and various types of growing. Swimming has established a firm place in your character and life. Continuing a sport where every single one of your muscles is worked, including your brain, isn’t a bad idea. 

Set Mini-Goals/Maintain Good Habits

It may be challenging to go forward with, but goal setting is an effective way to keep you motivated, rather than going day in day out for nothing. Maintaining a normal workout routine would be a reasonable habit if you’re not in the water. If you’re only able to obtain a lane for yourself, continue focusing on core concepts like better technique, breath control, and underwaters. Time yourself one day using the clock or another person, maybe even get a small group of your teammates to compete against. For those who are able to swim now with their teams, try to go to all your practices for a week, move groups by a certain date, or start to bring water to practice. As always, working on small things is never a bad idea.  

Swim For Everyone Who Cannot Get in a Pool

Many people are distressed at something that is missing from their lives. Be thankful for the chance to get in the water despite how this shaken past year has prevented people from doing what they enjoy. Pools might be open somewhere, but individuals worried about the health of their elder parents, friends, or relatives choose not to go to pools in fear of contracting and transmitting the virus to people who otherwise would not get infected. 

I Am Still Out of the Pool, And Am Missing the Water!

If this is currently you, the pool might be off-limits, but this opens up time to dedicate to other areas of your life. Self-care is especially critical in these times. Swimmers are constantly busy, usually with minimal time in their schedule to slow down and put everything into perspective. So, although your routine might be different, you can work on yourself, and be a more well-rounded person when pools are available again. Specific swimmer aims include, but are not limited to:

  • Reflect on how what swimming means to you, as well as your personal journey in the sport
  • Improve your social life by talking to old friends or making new ones
  • Strengthen your bonds with your family by spending time with them
  • Focus more on school
  • Get to bed earlier
  • Try new things

It is okay to be distressed if you’re not swimming at all, but don’t let that keep you from living your life.

To all swimmers, not just those out of the water right now, be sure to remind your family of how grateful you are for their constant support of your swim career. Regardless of length, it would not be possible if not for the people who care the most about you, driving you to practices and meets far away, and making many sacrifices.  

We can collectively conquer this whirlwind of a past year, and come out stronger once pre-pandemic normalcy returns, and it will, seeing the success of multiple relatively large club meets and college conference championships. 

All commentaries are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Swimming World Magazine nor its staff.