Our resident Olympian answers your swimming questions
What can I do to keep myself
motivated to keep training when
I don’t really feel like it?
The way I stayed committed and
dedicated to training was to break
each week down into single units. I
would look at each session as a means
to improve. So instead of looking
at one eight-week cycle of training,
I would break each week down and
look at each swim as a single unit. This
tricks your brain into focusing on the
short-term and ensures that each
session is as good as it can be – rather
than getting daunted by the whole
eight weeks’ training.
I believe it is important to set
yourself goals and targets. I used the
SMART system of goalsetting: I would
set one very short-term goal, which
would be for the next training session;
one medium-term goal, which would
cover a training cycle; and one long-
term goal, which would normally be
for the end of the season.
SMART stands for:
Specific – something really personal
to you that is going to help improve
your swimming. For example, if you
are working on your catch phase,
ensure that on each stroke you focus
on ‘elbows high, fingertips low’.
Measurable – something that is easily
measured. For example, a medium-
term goal would be to drop your
critical swim speed by one second per
Achievable – There is no point setting
a goal so hard that you will fail.
Realistic – To be realistic, a goal must
represent an objective towards which
you are both willing and able to work.
For example, if you know you are only
ever going to start a race from deep
water, there would be little or no
purpose in improving your dives.
Timely – A goal should be grounded
within a timeframe. With no
timeframe there’s no sense of
urgency. So an upcoming race is
perfect as a focus around which you
can set your goals.
"Swimming was my whole life for over 20 years. I poured every ounce of enthusiasm into it. I am so fortunate to have found these new outlets for that enthusiasm." Cassie Patten