Lessons I Learned from an Olympic Swim Coach

Swim Coach Advice we all can use: Serving the Garland, Rockwall, Rowlett, Sachse & Wylie areas

I shared this story of a lesson I learned for an Olympic swim coach with my wife this weekend when we were talking about individual sports vs. team sports

She grew up playing team sports and commented on team sports. Being around other players would bring out the best in you. It would force you to grow and get faster, better, leading your body and mind to develop. 

You see, I grew up differently; I grew up participating in individual sports. Track, gymnastics, and in later years, swimming.

We chatted about what would force someone to grow, being apart of a team, or competing with yourself. Truth be told, the answer lies somewhere in the middle, but since she had never done an individual based sport, I told her a story of a swim coach who forever altered my outlook on competing and improvement. 

A Lifeguard Competition?

When I was 20-21, I competed in a lifeguard competition. In this competition, cities would send their top lifeguards to compete against one another based on skills and athletic ability. 

I was selected to represent my city in the individual event, and the city rep wanted me to become a faster swimmer, so what he did was make me workout before work each day with a masters swim program. (masters means 18 and up). 

Now, I could swim, and IMO, swim fairly well for a lifeguard… but against former swim team competitor’s? I got thrashed. 

Hell, the warm-up alone in some of those workouts could be a 1mile swim. 

Now walking in, I knew the swimmers in that program were ALL faster than me, and not just by a little bit, but laps faster. But luckily, the swim coach at the time knew this and brought me to the side my first day.

He told me that I’m not competing against any of these other swimmers but myself and that all these swimmers here were competing against themselves, not one another. 

That swimming was the sport of self-competition. Yes, working out with others CAN and WILL push you to do better, but at the end of the day, it was still a competition of self-improvement. 

He would always ask at the end of each workout, “Were you faster than the last workout? Did you do one less stroke? Were you technically better? Because if you did accomplish any of those, then the workout was successful.” 

But for me being a younger guy, I didn’t want success; I wanted to win, to be the fastest in the pool; I wanted the results now. This is when the reality of his words hit home.

He said…

“If in each workout, you focus on beating your previous times, doing fewer strokes, becoming technically better, eventually those times will start beating other swimmers times.”

“Then the times your setting will become winning times, which later will evolve to becoming state records, and if you continue to improve, then they evolve into national then world records.”

“Don’t compete with these guys. Compete with yourself and as you keep beating your times. Your times will become something that everyone else is trying to beat.”

That opened my eyes because I saw his point that if I kept improving day after day and week after week, it would compound and add up to some impressive times in the pool.

Ever since that conversation the entire time I spent training for that competition I focused on being better than my last workout. Sure, a competitive side of me would come out working out alongside others that pushed me a bit more, BUT at the end of the day, it was still about being better than last time. 

This concept is now a motto on how I choose to live my life and coach RTC members to reach their goals. 

Being Better Than Yesterday

When it comes down to weight loss, gaining muscle, dropping fat, or changing your body, it always comes down to being better than your last workout. 

We call this at RTC, beating your numbers.

I stress the word “YOUR,” not the person next to you or the person that’s been in the gym for 10 years, but better than YOUR last workout. 

I know that may seem overly simple, but that concept has a compounding effect on how you will perform in your workouts and how your body, and life, will look completely different. 

To give you an example:

Imagine that you started working out, the body you have now can do:

10 push-ups

Row a 25lbs dumbbell for 12 reps

Squat 65lbs for 8 reps

Row 1500m in 10min

3 months go by, and now you can do:

25 push-ups

45lbs dumbbell for 14 reps

115lbs squat for 15 reps

Row 1500m in 8min

What do you think your body will look like after three months if all those numbers change? Let’s take it a step further…

6 months go by, and now you can do:

45 push-ups non-stop

60lb dumbbell row for 16 reps

145lbs squat for 14 reps

Row 1500min in under 7min

What do you think a body that is capable of THAT is going to look like? Very different than the one 3 or 6 months ago.

What do you think your body would look like if 6 months down the road, you were stronger in all of your exercises, you could workout longer, and you could workout faster? 

Again very different than the body you have now.

Focus on being better than your last workout; focus on beating YOUR numbers, and if you do this each and every workout, your body will be leaner, tighter, stronger, and look much fitter. 

If you need help with this or want someone to do the thinking for you, then click HERE, fill out the info, and let’s chat 🙂

In Health and Awesomeness,
Travis Merritt, BS, CPT, (and other letters behind the name) is the Owner of Rowlett Transformation Center in Rowlett, TX.

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