The Age Group Swimmer’s Ultimate Guide to Motivation

Michael Butler
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How do I get motivated to go to swim practice?

If you are a swim team member, getting to practice and meet your team’s expectations are probably two of your main sources of motivation. But for those of us who focus on individual goals, such as swimming competitively or scoring well at the next professional exam, you need to find your own source of motivation to succeed.

What is your primary goal? What are you working toward? Make a list of the goals that you are practically working towards right now. Then, write down the benefits of achieving those goals. For example, one of mine is to make the top 16 times in the 100m freestyle in a swim meet, which has been a goal of mine for the last two years. If I can achieve this goal and set a new personal best time at a swim meet, I will be helping my future college swim team, since it is the standard time to make a college team.

Let’s say, for example, that when you’re done with swim practice, you don’t want to go home. You’d rather sit at the pool and rest on several floating rings. If that describes you, you can use this time to further your goal. For example, you can continue to do sets of dead-start 50s, 25s, or even doubles to help and build muscle endurance.

Why am I motivated sometimes, but other days I am not?

The most popular motivation factors include:

Short-term Acquired Motivation

Achievable goals anytime soon:

When you see short term achievable goals, you are motivated to achieve them. These are usually smaller goals with manageable timing. These short term goals build momentum and you tend to get motivated to achieve them.

Short-term Habit Motivation

A series of smaller and manageable goals:

When you complete your smaller goals and feel the achievement, you tend to stay motivated to achieve the next. The motivation to achieve these short term goals keeps at a good work.

Long-term Acquired Motivation

Long-term goals give you a sense of achievement.

You remain motivated if you achieve something significant. Congratulating yourself motivates you to achieve more.

Long-term goals motivate you because they are a result of your hard work and good intention. They are a good milestone.

Long-term Habit Motivation

Continuous workout routine.

You are motivated to achieve long-term goals because you stay with the routine.

As you keep up with the routine, your body remembers that it needs to work hard to get fit over time.

Your body’s response to exercise training over a period of time helps you keep your motivation to stay fit.

Social Motivation

Do I have to be motivated to go to swim practice?

Motivation affects most of us in a big way. We can't always be motivated by passion or excitement. Sometimes self-awareness and accountability are more important to keep involvement going. How can you stay motivated to swim and train? Regardless of age group.

Swim Practice: Motivation From the Inside OUT

Use Competition as Your Motivation:

You are motivated by a sense of competition, the feeling of losing, or wins over other swimmers. Competition is personal. You know how hard you must work to be better than the other swimmers, to beat them. And when you do, it opens a boost of energy and motivation.

Use Competition as Your Motivation:

Watch Your Weight:

Keep workout nutrition on track. Do whatever you can to watch what you eat. It will help keep motivation up and progress going. Are you training enough? Not getting in enough swims? Fitness is more than just cardiovascular workout. Our bodies change in relation to the work we put into it. Are you still in shape?

Eat Healthy:

Be sure to eat healthy snacks between meals. Snacks are a must, especially if one is getting in lots of training. And more than anything, to keep your energy up. Have something to eat before practice, if you need to. Keep a granola bar or small trail mix handy.

Contact Your Moderator:

I am injured and have lost motivation in the water.

Any advice?

Trying to start up swimming again after an injury can be discouraging. But once you overcome the initial hurdles, you’ll find that your swimming will improve again.

Each time we go into the water, the water in our ears fills with pressure. The Eustachian tubes enable safe and healthy equalization. If there is any inflammation, congestion, infection, or fluid buildup, the Eustachian tubes become blocked and you have a hard time equalizing pressure. This means difficulty clearing the ears in the water.

BUT it does not have to stay this way!

If you are struggling with getting water out of your ears, you can try equalizing with the Valsalva Maneuver. To perform the Valsalva Maneuver, place your fingers in your ears and close your mouth. Hold your nose. Exhale through your mouth and push out.

This simple maneuver can help keep water out of your ears. Practice it in the shower. Practice it at home. Practice it in the pool. You can perform the maneuver while you’re swimming. But I would not recommend it while you’re diving.

If you are struggling to clear your ears, especially with balance, you might want to try using some type of ear protection. Either custom earplugs or a pair of regular earplugs can help.

I have a hard time staying motivated after a bad swim practice.

How can I avoid getting down on myself after a rough swimming day?

Whether you are a competitive swimmer, a competitive school swimmer, a fitness swimmer, or a recreational swimmer, after a bad swim practice you’re likely to feel down. It’s only normal to feel disappointed with your swimming after a difficult day.

However, one of the biggest mistakes you can make is to cancel your next swim practice or to swear that you will never swim again. This kind of reaction is not a healthy response to a bad practice. It may be short-term, but it’s also not going to help you to achieve your long-term goals.

The bottom line is that, even though a bad practice can be frustrating, it’s not a good reason to give up on your swimming. Here are a couple of different strategies that you can use to help you get past that negative train of thought:

Remember that you are only one swimmer out of thousands of swimmers. As a swimmer, you may be disappointed in yourself, but take action to keep your feelings in perspective. Sure, you may not be the greatest swimmer, but you’re still a member of an elite community.

Saturday, Sept 10

Th, 2012.

Let me tell you a story of a swimmer.

A competitive swimmer, aspiring Olympic hopeful. One who has dedicated her entire adolescence to training, to meet the final cut into the trials.

Then, while training in the Olympic pool in her college, she collides with one of her teammates. Hard. Without thinking, without second-guessing herself, she apologizes for her clumsiness and starts to finish her set. Slowly.

On the first length, she’s thinking only of how it hurts. On the second, she’s thinking of how it’s going to hurt until she gets into the car and can take some ibuprofen. On the third, she’s begun thinking about whether she’ll be able to swim fast enough to qualify for the trials.

On the fourth, she’s thinking of how she’s going to spend every evening this week sitting in a training room, focused on improving her swim times. On the fifth, she’s checking herself; she hasn’t even finished the set yet, and she’s already thinking about an unrelated event, she’s not even in the present moment.

What’s Next for You?

There is never a single, tried-and-true step-by-step to success, unless you look at it as a journey. But if you want to just cross the finish line of your individual race at the biggest sprinting tournament of the world, remembering that you’ve got to swim a lot of laps before you get a world record will keep you motivated and productive when you want to throw in the towel.

If you’re looking for motivation, I don’t think that there’s anything more important to read than the stories of the best athletes in the world, during their most difficult times. You probably have already found some of your own motivation in those stories, but if you haven’t, all you have to do is search for them in the web. Just look for high-profile failures, and you’ll find enough motivation to automate your life.

If you’re trying to be a swimmer and you want to be remembered as one of the best swimmers of all time, there’s a lot of work to be done. The price to be paid is relentlessly hard practicing and studying some biomechanics. And this is exactly what you want.