Goal-Setting for Swimmers in the New Year!
by Michael Andrew, World Champion
Setting goals is one of the most important things you can do as a competitive athlete. Goals are vital because if you don’t have something to strive for, it makes it incredibly difficult to have the motivation and discipline to give your all in training! Your goal is part of why you do what you do.
When I go about setting goals I make them as hard to reach as I can, but not something that is impossible. If you set a goal that you believe is unrealistic, mentally you will handicap yourself with doubt and fear of failure that you will never have a chance of achieving said goal.
So make them difficult, because if your goal is too easy, you won’t be satisfied when you achieve it and you won’t have to work as hard for it. Believe it or not, we are predisposed as humans to find joy in working hard towards something and achieving that something is so rewarding.
Here are a few things I focus on when setting goals for myself in the new season…
1) Seasonal Goals - First I focus on setting a goal time for all the events I race. When setting seasonal goals, I set a time that I want to be at by the end of the season. Seasonal goals also differ whether it's long course or short course season. Typically these seasonal goals for me are National Records, or times that would rank me worldwide, because it’s extra rewarding achieving those things. I find joy in achieving goals, because they are hard and it doesn’t always work out.
2) Short Term Goals - Short term goals for me are goals I would set for one swim meet or competition and the race times I wish to achieve while there. These are typically in conjunction with my seasonal goal and stair step (theoretically) as the season goes on towards my final seasonal goal.
3) Long Term Goals - My long-term goals do not change seasonally, or at least rarely do. Long-term goals for me are along the lines of major achievements that I believe will come later in my career like making the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Team, winning a gold medal, breaking a world record, etc.
4) Daily Goals - Daily goals are so vital to achieving other goals. These goals are much more achievable and more a "must-do list" rather than something to struggle towards achieving. These little daily goals, like making a certain amount of repeats, having perfect streamline off every wall, explosive starts off the blocks in training, etc. are what get you closer and closer to your other goals every time you do something. They get you through the every day!
5) Goals Outside of Swimming - Another type of goal I set for myself outside of swimming has to do with relationships and living a fulfilling live, which is so much more than just swimming. For example, I have goals of making a certain amount of new friends at each meet I race in, because I find joy in talking to people and sharing the excitement of racing! Maybe the goal is reading a book or picking up a new hobby this year. It can be anything non-swim related, really.
One thing to understand to when setting goals: I write them out by hand. I don’t type them. I take a big piece of paper and I write it out and post it on the wall around my room and home, so that I always see it. It becomes so familiar to me that I don’t notice it, because I start to believe in it so much.
This is exactly what happened in my 50 free. Long before World Junior Champs, I wrote down the time 21.75 on a piece of paper and stuck it everywhere. I had never been under 22.22 seconds and it seemed so far out of my reach.
At Nationals, the goal was to go a best time (which I did with a 22.03). Come time for Worlds, I was having a great time racing and not even thinking about what I thought I needed to go. I was just racing fully in the moment. I swam a 21.75 in prelims after a rough night of racing earlier. I went on to the semis and swam a 21.79. The night of my finals for the 50 free I had the 50 fly and 50 back in front of the 50 free with very tight turnarounds. I broke the World Junior Record in both the 50 fly, 50 back, and then swam another 21.75 in my 50 free! It was unbelievable! My body had become conditioned and my mind believed in the unbelievable!
It’s time for you to go set some goals for 2018! Thank you you for reading along with my blog this year and I hope this helped you realize how simple – and important -- it can be to set various goals!
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