Wednesday, December 10, 2014

The Swim - My Love / Hate Relationship

This week, I broke down in tears at swim practice.  Why?  Because I am afraid of hating swimming again.

For 90% of my swimming career, I loved to swim. I loved to practice (even though it was usually insanely hard), I loved to race and swimming contributed to my happiness.  But there came a point in my career where I hated swimming.  I dreaded going to practice, I dreaded meets, and I just wanted to quit.  So, I quit.

I spent 7 years away from swimming.  For the first 3 of those years, I didn't even go in a pool.  Then, I signed up for a triathlon.  And it was back to the pool for good.

With triathlon training, I was able to take the emphasis off of the swim, because I had and still have so much work to do on my cycling and running.  I was lucky that years and years of staring at the black line at the bottom of the pool meant that I was able to quickly return to form and get back into swimming.  By no means will I ever be back where I was, but my swim is good enough to put me near or at the front of the pack in my races.

At first, I only swam when I felt like it, maybe once or twice a week with only about 600-1200 meters of high intensity.  But I decided to commit to a more intense swim program this fall to help prepare me for Worlds and to take my swimming up a notch.  With the increased intensity has come the return of my intense feelings toward swimming.  When I was only swimming on my terms, I was able to avoid those feelings.

So... what do I do?  Well, with my tears at practice, my coach pulled me out of the pool.  We had a productive chat and he understands what I'm going through.  We agreed that I'm going to try to have more fun with swimming and he said his mission is to make sure that I like swimming still. 

I'm going to try not to be so hard on myself and to calm the internal negative chatter. 

I'm not going to stress out. 

I'm going to practice PMA (positive mental attitude). 

I'm going to smile more at practice and have more fun. 

And most of all, I'm going to believe in myself and my abilities. 

This blog is called the Happy Triathlete. Triathlon is for fun, which means swimming, biking, and running need to be fun.  Sometimes, we have to do that stuff we avoid because it is hard - and for me that is the mental work required to ensure that swimming is contributing to my happiness.  It's helped to revisit my happiness rules and think about how to apply them in the pool!

Do you have a love / hate relationship with any aspect of the sport?  Do you have any mental exercises that help you maintain a positive attitude? 



  1. That is so interesting about your swimming! I never did any sports competitively so I don't know exactly what you are talking about!! :) But I do have a love/hate relationship with running. I just started running one day. (back in 2005ish) I slowly learned about doing track work outs and tempo runs. Running is usually hard for me but sometimes I just let it be hard and not really think about it!!
    As for mental exercises: I was having a tough time training for my last Ironman. Multiple reasons but one was definitely mental! I read On Top Of Your Game. it really helped me with the mental side of training! If you should look into it! :)

  2. I can honestly relate to your feelings about swimming. Swimming has actually never been something that I love or enjoy doing, but its what I have to do to get to the sports I love. I wish with all of my heart that I could learn to enjoy swimming and “want” to get in the pool. At least now I have music, so that should help. I have cried in the pool too – you are not alone. Great advice from your coach!

    I thought about you this past weekend during my marathon, remembering what you said about smiling. If only we could smile in the water. ☺ Maybe that is why swimming is such a struggle for me – I can’t smile while doing it.