Skip to content

15 Habits of Elite Swimmers

Elite swimmers aren't born, they're made. Here are 15 habits of elite swimmers to help you reach your swimming goals.

elite swimmer habits

The best swimmers in the world didn’t achieve their success by some accident – they put in years of hard work and formed habits that helped them reach their goals.

Here are some of the things elite swimmers do on a regular basis that could help you succeed:

Unleash your speed.

15 Habits of Elite Swimmers

Set goals

Take ownership

Don't make excuses

Do more than they're asked to do

Find comfort in being uncomfortable

Pay attention to details

Make the most of what's available

Surround themselves with positive influences

Maintain an elite lifestyle

Manage their time

Don't complain

Take action

Listen to advice and criticism

Make sacrifices

Dream big



1. Set goals

Setting both short and long-term swim goals is essential for elite swimmers. They know where they want to be in the future and they plan the steps necessary to achieve success. By setting smaller goals, they create an action plan with manageable steps so that they are never overwhelmed in the pursuit of excellence.

2. Take ownership

Elite swimmers are students of their sport. They’re always asking questions and seeking new ways to make themselves better, both in training and in competition. The best in the world don’t allow others to dictate their potential; they take full ownership of their own swimming.

3. Don’t make excuses

It’s easy to make excuses when you make a mistake, or when you’re not performing at the level you would like to – it’s much more difficult to accept responsibility for your own actions. Elite swimmers recognize that taking the easy road isn’t going to be beneficial in the end. When you start blaming everyone but yourself, your dishonesty will begin to cloud your judgment and lead to toxic relationships. For elite swimmers, the answer is simple – don’t make excuses.

4. Do more than they’re asked to do

If you only show up at the pool and do the bare minimum amount of work required, how can you expect to improve? Elite swimmers know that in order to reach their goals, they need to not only avoid cutting corners but actually go above and beyond what is expected of them. Often this means putting in extra time and effort.

5. Find comfort in being uncomfortable

If you’re always comfortable, you aren’t improving or challenging yourself. Elite swimmers know this, and they recognize the fact that they need to leave their comfort zones on a regular basis in order to get better. Therefore, they make it a mission to find peace in discomfort.

6. Pay attention to details

Elite swimmers don’t just mindlessly swim up and down the pool without thinking about what they’re doing. They stay focused on countless technical details such as stroke counts, turn speeds, and time spent underwater. By paying attention to all of these details, they steadily refine their technique and their race strategy.

7. Make the most of what’s available

If you want to succeed, you need to take advantage of all of the resources that are available to you. This includes equipment, technology, services, and your support network. Elite swimmers seek out these resources and use them in a way that is beneficial.

8. Surround themselves with positive influences

You are not going to improve if you surround yourself with toxic people who discourage you and distract you from your real goals. Elite swimmers surround themselves with people who have a positive impact on their training and racing. This usually means making close friends with like-minded individuals who have similar goals and lifestyles.

9. Maintain an elite lifestyle

Elite swimmers aren’t only elite at the pool – they live and breathe success in all areas of their lives. This includes their diets, their sleep schedules, and their general conduct. Swimming is a sport that requires complete dedication; you need to be committed to an elite lifestyle 100% of the time.

10. Manage their time

Time management is key when you have a heavy training schedule – especially if you are also in school and have other outside commitments. Planning ahead and scheduling is critical for elite swimmers who have to juggle their intense practices with a number of other daily responsibilities. In order to maintain an elite lifestyle, swimmers must manage their time effectively.

11. Don’t complain

Complaining serves no purpose besides introducing negativity to your life. Elite swimmers know that when training gets difficult, they must embrace the challenge rather than whine and moan about it. Otherwise, they are doomed to become bitter and resentful – qualities that are not conducive to elite performance.

12. Take action

Elite swimmers don’t just sit back and wait for good things to happen to them. They know that they need to take the initiative to seek new challenges and ask questions if they want to keep improving. They also understand that if there is any sort of problem, obstacle, or setback, they need to address it immediately before it gets worse.

13. Listen to advice and criticism

Even if you don’t always agree, you need to be able to listen to the advice of your coach and the people closest to you, because they have your best interests at heart. Elite swimmers are aware that they depend on their support network because they can’t achieve success on their own. They are also willing to accept constructive criticism because they know that it will help them get better.

14. Make sacrifices

While adhering to an elite lifestyle, you must be willing to make sacrifices. It is true that swimming can consume your life and guide most of your decisions, but elite swimmers know that this is the only option if they want to be the best. Making sacrifices can be hard at the time, but they will pay off in the end.

15. Dream big

Most importantly, elite swimmers are not (and never have been) afraid to dream big. They are never satisfied until they reach their goals. While usually quite humble, the best swimmers in the world know that they deserve success and often aren’t afraid to express their desire to reach the top of the podium.


Latest Articles

Using Energy, Distance and Rest to Unlock Intensity

Using Energy, Distance and Rest to Unlock Intensity

Intensity provides a detailed breakdown of athlete effort . Dive in to learn how energy system usage, distance, and rest impact training in...

A Coach's Guide to Energy Zones in Swimming

A Coach's Guide to Energy Zones in Swimming

Everything you need to know about energy zones in swimming. What are they, how can you use them, and how can AI help automate them? No test...

How to Use Heart Rate Training in Swimming?

How to Use Heart Rate Training in Swimming?

Transform swim training with real-time heart rate and automated training zones. Know precisely what energy systems your swimmers use and sh...