Swimmers and coaches alike often place a lot of value on the time swum as reflected on the stop watch, pace clock or scoreboard. We learn the value of time in swimming at an early age. First you get your "B" time, then your "A" time, then your...the list goes on until some are getting their "Olympic Trials" time. It's all about the time...or is it?
Even if you are fortunate enough to set a World Record, at some point in time, probably sooner than later, someone will break it. So what the swimmer is left with is a recollection of their swim, or career and whether or not they can reflect positively on that recollection.
We have found recently that our swimmers do a better job of reaching their potential at any given moment in time by working on doing their best and swimming their race the way they know they can; the way they have trained to do. If they will focus on this, rather than getting a time, then more often than not they will swim a fast time.
Few other than Phelps himself and his coach will ever remember his times from Beijing but he will always remember how well he swam, how he constructed those races and used his training for success. Jason Lezak will remember his split on the 400 Free Relay but most will never forget the exciting finish and first place touch.
So keep using the stopwatch and pace clock as training aids. At the same time use your inner sense of how well you are doing based upon the effort you are giving. Let others do the timing; you do the swimming.
One way to start this process is to do an entire workout without a clock, measuring your rate of success based upon how well you are swimming and how fatigued you are at the end (or how fast you feel if you are in that stage of your training). You will discover a few new things about yourself in the process. These discoveries will go a long way toward your eventual success. Let us know how it goes!