We are in Federal Way just outside of Seattle this and next week competing at the US Open and Junior National Championships. One of the most gratifying opportunities at such meets is the chance to exchange ideas with fellow coaches, swimmers and officials. Whenever you get a group of like minded people together there are always good information/perspectives available.
One of the most respected coaches is Terry Stoddard of Swim Pasadena. He is the one who gave us the quote that "Long course swimming is the truth serum of our sport." We were discussing with him various reactions athletes have after their swims. He had an interesting perspective.
Swimmers can be frustrated, angry, disappointed and even discouraged if a swim doesn't meet expectations. Terry said, "It's OK to be disappointed; but never OK to be discouraged."
We hope those words ring the same way with you as they did with us. One of our swimmers wasn't very happy with a swim this week. Emotions were very real and very exposed. We said that it was OK to be upset but not to get down on yourself. You are in a National level meet competing with the very fastest swimmers available. If you handled your swim in less than perfect fashion it is not a sin; it is merely a swim that didn't go as planned - learn from it and move on. Use the disappointment as fuel for motivation for the next swim or the next round of training. Getting down on yourself, or as Terry would say, getting discouraged is pointless. It has no short or long term value. All the mornings you got up before the sun, all the lifts in the weight room, all the sacrifices you have made in fact make it impossible for you to be discouraged. You have made such a personal commitment to excellence that will always be of value no matter how fast you swim a particular race.
This goes for coaches as well. Disappointment is something we must learn to cope with. As long as we do our level best we cannot allow ourselves to get discouraged. We hope this viewpoint helps. We are all striving for personal improvement. We are all measured on the outside by how we swim/coach compared to others when in fact we can only control how we do and more importantly, how we handle the outcomes on the inside.
We hope this helps. Let us know your thoughts and have a great week!