5 Ways to Escape a Swimming Slump

Photo Courtesy: Florida Swim Network

By Maddie Strasen, Swimming World college intern

“Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard.”

It’s a concept that might have been drilled into your mind throughout your swimming career. Although the philosophy proves true—talent only brings an athlete so far—swimming remains one of the most frustrating sports because hard work does not always lead to guaranteed success.

We spend hours, days, months and even years reaching toward certain goals and times, but it’s not uncommon for these goals to remain slightly out of reach. Even after strenuous training, a physical setback, mental block or even an unknown reason can cause results to not match expectations. We’ve all had slumps in our career, but sometimes a bad meet or a bad season can feel like the end of the world.

Here are five things to keep in mind when you find yourself in a downswing.

1. Remember that it’s temporary.


Photo Courtesy: News.AsiaOne

It may seem like years since you’ve posted a best time or had a great race. Plateaus and downfalls are difficult to predict, and no one intends for them to continue over long periods of time. However long your performances have suffered, know that greatness lies within you. You are capable of breaking through the barriers that hinder your potential. You will eventually find the success you’ve been working toward.

2. Do not lose motivation.


Photo Courtesy: Florida Swim Network

Motivation to work hard is difficult to maintain when your effort never seems to pay off. However, lacking the desire to put forth your best effort will only hurt your times and performances even further. Begin with the end in mind – remember the goal you are reaching for. Trust the process and remind yourself that you have succeeded before and can succeed again by pushing through those lulls in motivation and continuing to work hard.

3. Be happy for your teammates.


Photo Courtesy: Florida Swim Network

Watching your friends and teammates succeed in the pool can be daunting when you are not performing at a desirable level. It’s difficult to watch others celebrating their achievements and receive positive feedback from coaches. It’s okay to feel a pang of jealousy, but that does not mean you can’t be happy for them and want them to swim their best. Chances are, they’ve had tough times too. Let their success motivate you to work hard and exert your best effort.

4. Communicate with your coaches.


Photo Courtesy: Florida Swim Network

Your coaches are experienced professionals who have seen a vast array of successes and failures. Coaches can give you technical and strategic advice, evaluate the situation you’re in, or just motivate you to keep pushing forward. It’s important that your coaches know how you’re feeling so they are able to be attentive to your needs. Talk to them if you know you’re capable of more than what you’ve been showing.

5. Search for ways to improve.


Photo Courtesy: Florida Swim Network

There’s a lot more to swimming than just physical hard work. Mental training and small details can make a huge difference in both practices and races. Utilize coaches, teammates and resources to improve your technique, strength and mental stamina. A little extra focus goes a long way and, before you know it, you’ll be back on top of your game.

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

Notify of

Welcome to our community. We invite you to join our discussion. Our community guidelines are simple: be respectful and constructive, keep on topic, and support your fellow commenters. Commenting signifies that you agree to our Terms of Use

Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Claire Kennedy
7 years ago

Like this one. So true! Such a tough sport and when you work hard with lots of effort and it doesn’t pay off it will eventually!!!

Peter Havers
7 years ago

Yup…so hard sometimes..but love my sport

Noria Gaier
7 years ago

It will it is just a question of time and determinations especially with teens.

Manitza Van Zijl
7 years ago

It makes for interesting reading.Thanks for that.All swimmers need something like this to encourage them to improve on their swimming goals.

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x