Athletes may wake up at dawn, but swimmers are often seen finishing morning swim practice at dawn. It's not a badge or a unique sort of pride. Waking up early for pre dawn swimming workouts is a necessity born of the need for repetition and the lack of available lane space.Time is precious on so many levels when hundreths often separate a good or bad race.
What men daily do, not knowing what they do. - Shakespeare
Genius is a term I am not particularly fond of because the misnomer is that skill is gifted rather than earned. Instead I have learned to embrace the term as a definition of those willing to put in the work. Geniuses practice with a purposeful rhythm to their day that maximizes learning opportunities for them. As Dan Pink writes in When,
Tchaikovsky would typically awaken between 7 a.m. and 8 a.m., and then read, drink tea, and take a walk. At 9:30, he went to his piano to compose for a few hours. Then he broke for lunch and another stroll during the afternoon. (He believed walks, sometimes two hours long, were essential for creativity) At 5 p.m., he settled back in for a few more hours of work before eating supper at 8 p.m.
The limited time allows swimmers to focus on skills to be periodized into a training plan. Coaches or autodidactics can then chunk information to make it easier to acquire and simpler to digest. And stroke specific drills offer the perfect complement when specificity needs to be challenged while learning.
Give yourself 7-10 days of 20-30 minutes of focused swimming to learn a skill that is explicitly clear to an experienced coach and or athlete. Like a great catch in swimming.
Motivation comes from ostentatious goals that ever so slightly defy our current while inspiring our potential reach. Researchers looked at 18,000 NBA games and found that when down by 1 pt at halftime, a home team is more likely to win the ball game. When adding in another 46,000 NCAA games and Pink writes of the research,
When they examined the scoring patterns in greater detail, they found that the trailing teams scored a disproportionate number of their points immediately after the halftime break. They came out strong at the start of the second half.
The goal is within reach and the deficit provides sufficient motivation that potential success can be visualized. Athletes (anyone) can use pre experience or prospection to connect a variety of skills into a complete task by simulating in our minds what we might accomplish from what we've experienced - an ability unique to humans.
But before you take the hardcourt or pool by storm, set aside 14-21 days to implicitly understand how to manage your new swimming skills as a part of the larger scope of swimming technique. Evaluate, challenge, and grow your feel for the water with test sets designed to provide a map for you to interpret - highway or back roads. If you're curious check out the KineFusion App
Listen to Yourself and Embrace Repetition
New, and/or the anticipation of the new is exciting - think New Years resolutions. Yet in our hurry to achieve, its doesn't 'stick'. Don't dive into the deep end without knowing that the speed accuracy trade off comes with less motivation. The faster you go, the longer it takes to acquire your 'genius'. And the less motivation to continue with ''boring' repetition required to 'own' your swimming.
Instead rely on your personal goals to motivate. Those that use words like "I will be" vs ‘have to' train - train more. So when the seemingly impossible is broken down into the mere improbable. And out of nowhere 'appears' through weeks of dedicated deliberate practice, we can rest on accomplishments or challenge the new status quo. If its the latter, do so with specific swimming equipment meant to make repetition a little less mundane.