How To Move On From A Bad Swim: 5 Helpful Tips

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How To Move On From A Bad Swim: 5 Helpful Tips

We will all have a bad race or two, or sometimes even more throughout our swimming careers, but it’s how we handle ourselves during these times that makes us stand out as athletes. After a bad race, we have two options. We can cry, be angry, blame others, mope around and let it affect our whole mood and outlook on swimming and life. Or, we can use it to motivate us to be a better swimmer, to work harder and achieve greater success.  

Here are five tips to help you move on from a bad race.

Focus On What Went Well 

When you have a bad race, it’s easy to get caught up in everything that went wrong and everything you should have done. Maybe a quicker reaction time off the blocks or breathing every four. 

But, it’s important not to dwell on these areas and focus on the positives. What did you do well in the race? Maybe you kicked past the flags on every wall or composed your nerves before the race. No matter the race’s outcome, you can always find a positive and use it as a learning opportunity for your next race. 

Take a Timeout 

Nobody likes having a bad race, losing by .01 or getting disqualified because you moved on the blocks. It can leave you feeling angry, upset and disappointed. You might want to yell, scream, cry and blame everybody else. Do not take that approach. Instead, take a timeout, get all the anger, frustration and sadness out of your system and take a moment to yourself to calm down and gather your thoughts. Go jump in the warmdown pool and swim laps while crying in your googles (we’ve all been there), take a shower and let it all out or go for a walk around the pool deck.  

Once you’ve taken your timeout, get back in the moment and go back to laughing with your coach and teammates on the pool deck or grab a bite to eat and hang out with friends to take your mind off your race. 

Be Resilient 

You will have lots of races that leave you disappointed, hurt and wanting to give up, but how you handle yourself after these races are more important than when you win or get a personal best.

It’s important in these times to push through, persevere, learn to control the controllables and try again. This might mean going back to the drawing board with your coach at training, working on your starts, turns and finishes, learning how to handle yourself and stay focused when your race plan doesn’t go as planned mid-race. 

After all, we don’t have a crystal ball that can predict what will happen in a race. We can train and prepare to handle any situation and try again come race day.

Move On And Use It To Fuel Your Next Success

A bad race can feel like the end of the world for a swimmer. You’ve spent countless hours swimming up and down the black line, but the results don’t match. These races can demoralize and defeat us and make us question whether it is worth continuing on. But the answer is always yes. 

In these times, you can either let the race defeat you and push you down or allow yourself to move on and use it to fuel your fire to train harder. After all, bad races happen to the best of swimmers, but it’s how they pick themselves up and continue on their swimming journey that matters. 

Don’t Take It Personally 

There will be times when you train hard, go to all the sessions, do the extra work, but it simply doesn’t pay off. Your effort in training doesn’t match the results in the race.

You may have just missed out on the final or gotten beaten by .01. These things can make us feel like we’re a bad swimmer and won’t achieve any of our goals or succeed. But, they are out of our control, and in these times, it’s important to remember not to take it personally. After all, one bad swim doesn’t mean you’re a bad swimmer. 

Always remember one bad swim doesn’t define you as a person.

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

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