Every swimmer has at least a couple of goals they strive for every season. But, because goal-setting is an ongoing process that takes time and needs to be actively worked on, not everyone sticks to their goals long enough to see results.So, here are five ways to effectively set the swimming goals that you will actually follow through on, to become a faster swimmer in the 2019 season.
1. Reflect on the previous season
Take a look back at the previous season. What worked? What didn’t? Were you happy with the results you achieved? What could you have done differently or better?
Ask yourself these questions and evaluate where you started last season, how far you came, and where you are today. This will help identify gaps in your training and performance and serve as a starting point for setting new goals.
Once you have unpacked your training performance, you'll be able to pragmatically determine which training methods could benefit from a change or if you can continue along the same path as last year.
2. Set swimming goals at the outcome, performance, and process level
Once you know where you are today, figure out where you want to be next season and make a plan for how you’re going to get there.
Set both micro and macro-level goals. Your shorter-term process and performance goals will pave the way for the accomplishment of your long-term outcome goals.
Break down your outcome goals into smaller, more actionable performance steps, and identify the processes you'll need to get there. This will give you direction and provide something specific to work towards on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis.
3. Keep plans and goals SMART
Specific. Measurable. Attainable. Realistic. Time-bound.
These attributes should bind every plan and goal. Sure, every swimmer wants to swim fast, but what does that actually mean?
Know exactly what you want to achieve with each training cycle, and establish criteria to determine if you’ve accomplished it. While there’s nothing wrong with dreaming big, your plans should be grounded in something you can reasonably obtain, given your current abilities and the resources available to you.
And finally, make sure it’s something you really want to dedicate time and effort to and set complimentary goals to help keep you on track.
4. Commit and stay accountable
Now that you’ve outlined your SMART goals, and a plan to achieve them, it’s time to actually execute. In an ideal world, this would go off without a hitch. But realistically, life gets in the way. There will be times when you find yourself too tired or busy to make morning practice or stick to your nutrition plan. The key is to recognize and correct this behaviour.
Make an active choice to commit to your plans and goals, then hold yourself accountable. The only way to get closer to achieving your dreams is to stick to your plan, especially on the days you’d rather do literally anything else.
If this is something you struggle with, find a teammate, friend, or family member who can help you stay accountable.
5. Track progress
Keep notes of your progress, good or bad, throughout each season. This is a critical step.
Please pay attention to the things that cause you to lose motivation and work to minimize them or their effects. Conversely, acknowledge improvements, as this can be the biggest motivator and is a good reminder of why you’re doing what you’re doing.
Monitoring progress also lets you know if you're still on track towards your outcome goals for the season. One way to do this is by implementing test sets. This will give you a picture of your progress, help you determine if you need to re-evaluate or adjust, and guide future training.
As you work through the season, always celebrate each little win, but don’t get complacent. Remember the big picture, and continuously work towards it.