Five Ways to be a Better Swimmer

rylee-jackson-takeoff
Photo Courtesy: Andy Smith

By Sarah Noll, Swimming World College Intern.

The best swimmers are not always those who are the most talented, although talent obviously helps. What makes a swimmer – or any athlete – truly good extends far beyond talent. Instead, the greats are those who are coachable, teachable, work hard and persevere through challenges. Every team has them – those kids who everyone seems to really like. They are the coach’s favorites, the teammate you can rely on, and a hard worker. These kids are not necessarily the fastest on the team. They might not always show up to every single practice, but they are all without a doubt great swimmers. To celebrate those champions of the pool who inspire us, here are five ways to become a better swimmer.

1. Be Open to Critique

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Photo Courtesy: Facebook, @WVWCSwimming

Your coach’s job is to make you a better athlete, and good swimmers utilize their coaches well. Swim coaches are all committed to making us better athletes, and when a coach offers you advice, you should take it seriously. Coaches don’t tell you to change your stroke to annoy you: They want to help. Good swimmers recognize that they need to listen and try to fix whatever it is that they need to become better.

2. Show Up at Practice

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Photo Courtesy: Brian Bergstrom

This does not mean you never miss practice. This means when you are at practice, you are there to work hard and get a good workout in. You swim the sets the way they are written. You drill when coach writes drill, you sprint when coach says sprint, and you always finish your cool-down. This requires no talent, just grit. It takes dedication to go to practice every day, but it takes grit to actually get something out of your practice. It is not always possible to get to practice every day, but it is possible to work hard each and every day.

3. Lead by Example

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Photo Courtesy: Facebook, @WVWCSwimming

Be the first one in and the last one out. Help with the lane lines. Help teach the younger kids on the team how to have better technique. Clean up deck after practice and put equipment away. Set an example of excellence that others will want to follow. Little things like that really set some swimmers apart, and they have nothing to do with practice. Strive to be as helpful as you can. Your coaches and teammates will thank you.

4. Persevere

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Photo Courtesy: Facebook, Andy Smith @mountaineastconference

Sometimes you have a bad day and it follows you to the pool. The sets are all distance and you are a sprinter. You don’t make the times, or your teammates are just getting on your nerves. Instead of getting discouraged and giving up, the coachable swimmer will focus on one thing to do right. They might not make the sets, but they focus on having fast turns instead. The best swimmers don’t have bad practices not because they don’t have bad days, but because they don’t let the bad day get the best of them.

5. Support Your Team

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Photo Courtesy: Andy Smith

Team spirit is important! Encouraging your teammates and cheering them on is an underrated but important part of the sport of swimming. For example, it is hard both physically and mentally to swim a 200 butterfly. While you might not be able to help your teammate out physically, you can always help them mentally by showing support and cheering.

What other qualities make a swimmer better? Comment down below!

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

5 comments

  1. Carol Donovan Bishop

    Beth Selke Hutson Brock…sums it up, what a great guy

  2. avatar
    Anonymous

    I’m not sure a coach should have ‘favourites’ should they?

    • avatar
      Sarah Noll

      As a swimmer of 15+ years and a coach of 3+ I think it’s fine for coaches to have favorites, it’s a natural thing. You are going to like the kids who work hard, show up, lead by example, and who want to be there. That being said, you should never “play favorites” and give kids special treatment just because you like them.

    • avatar
      Anonymous

      Every coach has “favorites”, every teacher has “favorites”, and every employer has “favorites”. As a human you are going to like the person who does what needs done without being told everything more. The key to being successful as the person in charge in not showing favoritism. Most times though, it’s harder to not expect more or place higher demands on your so called favorites. Fine line!