Trust the Process: 5 New Year’s Resolutions for Swimmers

Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

By Emma Foster, Swimming World College Intern

New Years. There is something special about this time of year, with the wrapping up of the December holidays, and the beginning of a new year. When January 1 rolls around, resolutions fill the air as people declare that this year, they are going to be kinder, healthier, thriftier, and happier. There is something fresh and exciting about making a New Year’s resolution, something about the chance for a fresh start, a blank page, which offers endless possibilities.

Swimmers, like everyone around them, often make New Year’s resolutions. Whether swimming-related, or just goals in terms of how one hopes to present themselves in the New Year, swimmers are no strangers to this process of setting goals. The blank page offered by the January 1 spot on the calendar may often lead swimmers to evaluate their progression of goals set earlier in the season. At the midpoint of the season, this can be helpful in keeping oneself on track, and reigniting motivation to finish the season with a splash.

However, one thing that every swimmer should keep in mind before they jump into resolutions that drastically differ from what they have been doing all year long is the reality of the grind of the months of December and January. While it may be tempting for a swimmer who hasn’t felt like they have improved much in the last month or two to resolve to drastically deviate from the path they have been following, this would be a mistake.

One resolution that I believe it is critical for all swimmers to make as they enter into the month of January is to resolve to stay the course. The grind is called the grind because it requires an attitude of fortitude and mental toughness that comes from digging into hard work without immediately seeing results. Rather than using the New Year as a reason to question the work you have done and dramatically change your approach, use it to recommit to the path you have already chosen to take.

Here are five things to remember as you resolve to trust the process…

1. Trust the Technique


Photo Courtesy: Scottish Gas Championships

While technique changes can be frustrating, and often make you feel slower before you feel faster, they are a necessary part of the drive to succeed. While in the midst of changing your stroke, and seemingly dragging through practices, it might seem like a better idea to go back to the old stroke. However, in reality, this is going to ensure that you remain stuck in the same spot you have been. Choosing to trust that the technical changes you are making will lead you to your goals is critical to the process, and recommitting to the changes you are making rather than questioning them is the best thing you can do for yourself as you start swimming into the New Year.

2. Trust the Timeline


Photo Courtesy: J.D. Lasica

Similarly to the trust that you need to put into technique changes, it is critical that you buy into the timeline of the work you are doing. The months of December and January are often the most difficult of the season. As taper meets approach and you just feel more tired and more slow, you might feel panicky and worry that you are just getting slower.

Don’t. Part of the process is the breakdown between the beginning of the season and the end. You aren’t supposed to feel great right now, as you churn out endless yards, endure training trips, and settle back into the routine of school and dual meets. That’s okay. There is plenty of time later to feel great, as you begin to taper and your end of the season meet approaches. For now, be content with the state your body is in, and do everything you can to ensure that you remain committed to the arc of the season.

3. Trust the Training

Unless you have some magical coach with a secret training plan, chances are right now you feel tired. And sore. And broken down. That is good. That means you are getting the work done, and that you are establishing the base and the training that will carry you to your goals at the end of the season. Rather than worrying that you are too tired, or too sore, take a breath and be content that you are right where you need to be. Constantly questioning the work you are doing and the reasons for it is pointless at this point of the season. You already committed, in the early months of September and October, to the training that you are now churning out. Rather than going back on that decision, remind yourself of your goals, and dig back into the process.

4. Trust Your Coach

Jul 13, 2014; Athens, GA, USA; Swimming coach David Marsh talks with Ryan Lochte during the Sunday finals of the Bulldog Grand Slam at Gabrielsen Natatorium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Liles-USA TODAY Sports

Photo Courtesy: Kevin Liles-USA TODAY Sports

That person that threw endless yards at you during winter training, who inspired slack jawed expressions as they read out a set you didn’t possibly think you could finish (although in reality you crushed it) is the same coach who inspired your trust and confidence at the beginning of the season. One of the most dangerous things you can do for your swimming right now is to suddenly go rogue and decide that the training your coach is providing isn’t working any more.

While it’s certainly okay to have a conversation if you have questions about where training is going, don’t suddenly decide that they no longer know what they are talking about. Trust them. They know what they are doing, and they have been through their fair share of these training periods. Even if winter training may have inspired you to believe otherwise, your coach is actually not the devil, and doesn’t want to torture you. They are invested in your success, and just as focused as you on helping you to achieve your goals.

5. Trust Yourself


Photo Courtesy:

Finally, the greatest resolution you can make heading into the month of January is to trust yourself. And by yourself, I don’t mean the slightly scared, tired version that wants to question the process and try to find an easier way. I mean the part of yourself that committed to this journey, that vowed to do whatever it took, and who wakes up every morning, no matter how tired, or sore, or unsure, determined to find a way to get better. Resolve to trust the best version of yourself and to recommit to the path that you chose to take a long time ago. That is a resolution worth making.


  1. avatar

    Trust your coach…but not that coach: he’s a cheater.

  2. avatar
    Donna Hodgert

    Excellent and timely article. It is short and sweet but one of the best (grammatically as well as content) I have read from an intern. Keep up the good work