end triathlon swim panic attack

How To Stop A Triathlon Swim Panic Attack Mid Swim On Race Day

How To Stop A Triathlon Swim Panic Attack On Race Day


We’ve been talking about the effect that panic has on transferring your speed from the pool to open water.

Panic on race day is one of the biggest reasons why triathletes fail to convert speed from the pool to open water. In the last post I showed you two ways that you can help avoid panic on race day.

But what happens if you do start to panic at some point during the swim on race day?

Here are three ways I deal with panic.

stop triathlon swim panic attack

3 Ways to Calm Down From a Panic Attack On Race Day

1. Clear Your Mind Of Negative Thoughts

Close your mind off to to any negative thinking. Negative thoughts have a habit of spiraling downwards and getting worse. Feeling a little short of breath can quickly lead to thinking you’re in a life threatening situation!

Don’t allow any thoughts that don’t serve you to linger. The easiest way to do that is to be task oriented, which leads us to number 2.

2. Stay Task Focused.

end triathlon swim panic attack

Don’t allow your mind to get overwhelmed by what’s going on around you. Don’t focus on how far you still have to swim. Or the fact that everyone is swimming away from you! It will only make things worse.

Focus on the very next thing that you need to do to get your swim done. It’s usually to take the next breath and start your next stroke.

Do that. Then do it again.

Focus on the things you can control. The things you’ve practiced many times over. Is your body in a good position. Is your hand getting a good catch on the water? Are you sighting well?

You will finish the swim one stroke at a time. So take that first stroke, then the second, then the third.

3. Breathe

If at any point anything doesn’t feel right or you’re not comfortable, check your breathing. Panic and breathing are very closely linked. Re-gain

Make sure you are in control of your breathing and that it is regular and consistent. Calm yourself and center your thoughts. Now you are ready to rock and roll!

Panic attacks prevent many triathletes from reaching their full potential in the water. Learn to love the open water. Your pool speed will transfer over much better when you do!

Any questions, email me or put them in the comments.
– Rory

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Related Advice & Tips:

This post is part of a series on swimming well in open water. Read the rest of the posts in the series here:

Part 1: The Six Culprits Of Slow Open Water Times
Part 2: How To Prevent An Open Water Swim Panic Attack Before Race Day
Part 3: How To Stop A Triathlon Swim Panic Attack On Race Day
Part 4: How To Swim Straight In Open Water
Part 5: Wetsuit Tips For Open Water Swimming


💁🏽‍♂️ Do You Know Someone That Needs Help Stopping Panic Attacks?

Open Water swimming can be nerve racking. Send this advice to someone that will feel a little more prepared the next time they hit the open water. Click on one of the magic icons below to share it with them.


how to not open water swim panic

Preventing Panic Open Water Swimming Before Race Day

Open Water Swim Panic Attack
How To Prevent It Before Race Day


After months in the pool practicing your swim you owe it to yourself to best prepare for the open water on race day.

It sounds obvious, but open water can get the better of you if you are not prepared.

Panic on race day is one of the biggest reasons why triathletes fail to convert speed from the pool to open water.

prevent-open-water-swim-panic

Picture it with me…

Race morning. Start gun blasts and you’re off swimming.

300m into the race you feel it coming.

Oh no, here we go… No…

No, please no….

NO!!!!

PANIC!

You’re out of breath. Your heart feels like it’s pounding out of your chest.

You stick your head up of the water.
You start doing breaststroke.
You try rolling over onto your back or treading water.
Anything to catch your next breath!

At this point the only thing going through your mind is surviving.

While you panic, the rest of the pack swims around you.
Over you, and away from you towards the swim finish.

The triathletes that enjoy the sport the most don’t just survive the open water. They thrive in the chaos and unpredictability of it.

I want your your hard work to transfer from the pool to open water.

how to not open water swim panic

How You Can Thrive In Open Water Instead of Panicking On Race Day

1. Hit the Open Water More Often

Your experience in any given moment is a direct reflection of your understanding about it. You are panicking because you don’t know how to deal with the perceived threat to your survival.

You brain has a funny way of protecting you. When you are unfamiliar with a situation your brain will find any way to get you out, as quickly as it can.

Thing is, your brain doesn’t care much for your ultimate goal when it perceives a threat to your survival. So if returning you to “safety” means stopping, breaststroking or calling the life guard over, your brain will do it!

None of those will help you crush your swim goals though.

The better your understanding of open water, the better decisions your brain will make when it begins to perceive a threat.

Give yourself the chance to experience similar conditions to those you will be racing in. The more familiar you are with situations that arise at the start of a race, the more comfortable you will.

“We don’t rise to the level of our expectations, we fall to the level of our training.”

If you don’t expose yourself to the open water, there is a good chance it will get the better of you on race day. Create more opportunities for understanding and learning. Hit the open water more often and familiarizing yourself with it!

2. Work On Take Out Speed

Going out too hard and fast in the first 200-400m of your race is often the catalyst for a panic attack.

So work on your take out speed during training sets.

Prepare your body for the fast start. Teach it how to settle down into a pace and rhythm without stopping or having to do breaststroke.

The more you practice, the better you will transition from the sprint start to your steady race pace.

Don’t waste the months spent improving your swimming in the pool only to panic on race day. Set yourself up for success by practicing in open water and working on your take out speed.

3. Mentally Visualize and Prepare Before You Race

In 2011 The British Journal of Sports Medicine focused a study on IRONMAN triathletes. The study concluded that conscious thoughts have a direct impact on your performance.

Training your mind is as important as training your body.

How can you train your mind for the swim start?

Identify a situation you fear may happen and write it down.

Now think about where your focus needs to be in order to get through this moment successfully?

Is it your breathing? Is it your posture? Is it your technique? Is it just focusing on yourself and racing your own race?

Write out what you need to do to resolve the issue.

Next, think about what you need to do to trigger your brain to use the solution you have written down.

Maybe it’s a physical cue, or a mantra, maybe some words? It can be anything that will trigger your brain to start the solution you came up with.

Write out all the potential challenges that could arise in your race. Then program your response – don’t leave it to yourself in the moment.

Tell yourself ahead of time – if that challenge comes, this is what I do, so it’s not left to chance!

Don’t let race day panic ruin your swim. Prepare physically and mentally before you even get to the start day.

Got a question related to panic attacks in open water? Email me and tell me about it.
-Rory

***************************************

Related Advice & Tips:

This post is part of a series on swimming well in open water. Read the rest of the posts in the series here:

Part 1: The Six Culprits Of Slow Open Water Times
Part 2: How To Prevent An Open Water Swim Panic Attack Before Race Day
Part 3: How To Stop A Triathlon Swim Panic Attack On Race Day
Part 4: How To Swim Straight In Open Water
Part 5: Wetsuit Tips For Open Water Swimming


💁🏽‍♂️ Do You Know Someone That Needs Help Stopping Panic Attacks?

Open Water swimming can be nerve racking. Send this advice to someone that will feel a little more prepared the next time they hit the open water. Click on one of the magic icons below to share it with them.


Not Seeing Tangible Progress In The Water?
Try These Two Steps to Help You Move Closer Towards Your Swim Goal

Are You Frustrated About Spending Hours in the Water Without Seeing Tangible Progress?

Time is a luxury as a triathlete. There are so many training pieces to fit together each week! To plan your swim/bike/run workouts amongst work, family and some sort of social life can be mission impossible!

When you finally get the piece to fit together, you want to make damn sure that you’re not wasting any of your workouts!

Every workout you do should help you improve and move you closer to your ultimate goal.

Think about someone looking to invest some money. The goal is to get the biggest possible return on the investment. In the same way, you want to see the most progress possible from your time spent in the pool.

The more progress you can make in the time you have available the quicker you’re going to achieve your goals! And achieving goals is AWESOME!

Two easy ways you can make better use of your workout time in the pool:

1. Follow A Plan

Have you ever Googled a swim workout while you’re driving to the pool? Or are you just repeating the same workout every time you hit the water?

If this is you, you are not making the best use of your time in the pool!

You need to follow a structured plan.

Get 3 New Structured Swim Workouts Every Week. Join The SwimFaster Program HERE.

If you have a goal, you need a plan.

Training without a plan is like getting in your car and driving to a destination you’ve never been to…  without using a GPS!

You’re going to get lost. You’re going to take the long way around. You’re going to ask strangers for directions even though you’re adamant you got this! And sadly, you’re going to waste a lot of time…

Chances are you may never even arrive at your destination.

2. Film Yourself Swimming or Get a Video Analysis Done

Swimming is very foreign to us humans. Our ability to know and understand what our bodies are doing in the water is very poor.

That’s why seeing yourself swim can be so eye opening and valuable.

Only once you watch yourself swim on video do you realize the areas that need the most improvements.

I film the athletes that I work with at least every 10 weeks. By doing so, we know exactly what stroke technique points we should focus on during each workout.

Check out how Video Analysis Helped Amin Drop Minutes Off His Swim Time! Read it HERE.

Don’t allow swimming to become a frustrating experience where every trip to the pool is a waste of time. Your time might be limited but you can maximize it to make sure that every workout is helping you improve and moving you closer to your ultimate goal.


You may have just learned something your friends don’t know.

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Slow Sucky Swim Days

“This trip to the pool was a waste… I’m swimming slow and still have so much left to do. I should give up now… I feel like I am exerting a ton of energy and almost getting nowhere… Why is life so hard? This swim is hell. I hate swimming. I am terrible at it and it never gets any easier.”

Have you ever had this conversation with yourself during a workout?

I bet you have.

We ALL have.

Sucky-Slow-Swim Days (SSSD) happen. They even happen to the very best athletes in the world. They also happen to me and I’m sure they happen to you too.

Your swim success on race day isn’t dependent on avoiding Sucky-Slow-Swim Days (SSSD).

Your swim success on race day is dependent on how you deal with Sucky-Slow-Swim Days (SSSD).

Age Group Triathletes are more likely to have SSSD than swimmers or Pro Triathletes, and here’s why;

The more you swim, the less prone you are to SSSD’s.

When I was training for the 2012 Olympics I was in the pool 11 times a week. We’d get through 25+ hours of water time in those 11 sessions.

My training these days looks A LOT different to what it looked like back then. I don’t have the time nor the motivation to swim for 25+ hours a week. Like many other Age Group triathletes, I swim 3 times a week for roughly an hour.

I’ve noticed something interesting with my own training and see it with my clients too. With the lower total swim time each week, my times are far less consistent than they used to be.

There are a lot more SSSD’s and when they happen, I’m much slower than my goal times!

When training 25 hours a week on a SSSD, I would be 1 second off my 100m goal pace… and I remember feeling so frustrated even with 1 second!

Nowadays, on 3 hours a week, if I’m having a SSSD, I can be between 4-6 seconds off my 100m goal pace!! WTF?!

Last week I had a SSSD. Sunday’s session was bang on. Tuesday’s swim was a nightmare, but Thursday, I was right back on pace!

Why Do SSSD’s Happen?

  • You’ve briefly lost your feel for the water
    • “Feel” is a swimming term that describes how quickly and how much water you can grab. How much water you can hold and push back with each stroke. The more the better! The more you swim (less time between your swim sessions), the more your body will remember the “feel” for the water
  • You’re more fatigued
    • Balancing the training of three sports is tough. Very seldom will you be completely recovered from the training you did the day before. This plays a role on your speed and ability to hit your goal times.
  • Other factors
    • There are countless other reasons why SSSD’s happen to AG Triathletes. Changes in technique. Bad stroke habits that creep back in. Stress from work or life. Lack of sleep. Not eating right. Dehydration. Some of them you can control, others you can’t, but they all play a role.

You Have A Choice To Make On SSSD’s

Regardless of the reason, SSSD’s happen and when they do, you have a choice to make.

Going through my SSSD workout on Tuesday, I could have had that conversation with myself. The “…this trip to the pool was a waste… I’m swimming slow and still have so much left to do. I should give up now…” conversation.

But I didn’t. I pushed through, and I want you to push through too.

SSSD’s can be constructive workouts that make you a better swimmer. Missing your goal times doesn’t always mean that you are wasting you time with a workout.

How To Deal With SSSD’s

Think of your fitness like a savings account at a bank.

Each time you work out you are making a deposit into your account. Over time you’ll build up enough of a reserve to be able to write a nice big cheque on race day.

Let’s say your goal is to deposit $100 into your account every time you workout. When you hit all your goal times, $100 gets deposited and saved.

On some days, you’ll have a SSSD and for whatever reason you miss your goal times. Perhaps you’re stressed at work and didn’t sleep well. Today you only have $50 (or less) to deposit.

You Make The Decision

On SSSD’s, you have two choices:

1. Choose not to make a deposit today.

Because it’s not $100 (which is the goal) you could say, “…this is a waste of time, I won’t make a deposit today”. You then quit your workout and leave without adding any amount at all to your bank account savings.

2. Decide that $50 is better than $0 and make the best of what you’ve got to deposit today.

If you deposit $50 on two days this week, you’ll have $100 saved. Not quite as much as the $200 you might have planned, but 100% more than the $0 you would have had if you quit and left the pool! Whether its money or fitness, it all adds up no matter how small.

Switch Your Focus

Training is not a continuous upward trajectory in a straight line. If you only swim 3 hours a week, you’re not going to have $100 to deposit every time you hit the water.

That is ok! Take the SSSD’s in your stride.

Switch your focus to effort and maintain your intensity. Put forward the best effort you can, today. Deposit whatever you have to offer. Over the long run, with time and consistency, you will be richer and fitter because of it!


💁🏽‍♂️ Did You Just Learned Something Your Friends Don’t Know?

If you shared your new found knowledge with your friends, you could become their swimming master. And I think you are a legend for helping fix their biggest struggles. Click on one of the magic icons below to share this knowledge with them.


What If Swimming Faster Was This Easy?

I want to show you that all you need to do to succeed, is take action.

We kicked off the SwimFaster Program in November and already there are people starting to see amazing results. Check out Olivier’s story on how he dropped 30 seconds from his 800 Freestyle time this month.

I shared some of my November goals with you at the beginning of last month. The way I set one of my goals, might help you achieve a goal you’re struggling with.


How Olivier dropped over 30 seconds from his 800 time. 

I’ve never met Olivier in person, but in early November he replied to one of my emails. He told me his background and what he is struggling with in swimming. He then asked for some help…

olivier-email
The next day, Olivier took action. He logged in and did his first SwimFaster Program workout.

The SF Program is designed to help you swim faster and gain confidence – but that means nothing to you unless it actually delivers, right?!

So in week 5 of the program we put it to the test.  Workout #SF 13 had an 800 Time Trial to test endurance and stamina and a 100 Time Trial to test raw speed.

Olivier had best times in both swims.
His endurance AND his speed is improving!

We’re only in Cycle 1 of the season! Come June when the snow in Zurich, Switzerland (Olivier’s home town) has melted and it’s race time – Olivier is going to be killing it in the water!!

Awesome work, Olivier!

https://www.instagram.com/p/BNZkI5tBG_I/?taken-by=olivierb71

Just like Olivier, everyone else who took action and began following the program (that I got to see results for) has had a best time in either the 800 or the 100 freestyle. Many of them in both…

All they did to start was take action.

cropped-favicon-lg.pngThe SwimFaster program is designed specifically for triathletes in the 2.20/100m to 1.40/100m range. If you’re ready to step up your swimming game, get started HERE.


How setting an easy goal helped me step up my game. 

One of my goals for November was to get in 5 workouts each week. I actually averaged 6-7!

workouts

 

Am I a hero? No way!! But I’m trying to get back into shape and there’s a subtle trick I used to help me…

  • I set this goal real low.
  • I accomplished it.
  • Then did more than I had planned.
  • And I felt like a bad ass that’s dominating life.

Boom.

All too often we try to get from zero to 100 in one week.

Why?

Because we confuse long term goals with short term objectives. They are not the same thing.

Keep your long term goals, they are important. But I like to break my short term objectives into manageable targets.

Try this next time you’re struggling to get something accomplished. You will find that you are WAY more motivated with this approach than if you try to get from zero to 100 in one week and fail.

Here are my December Goals:

As I will every month, I’ll post up the three things I’m going to be working on for the coming month. Here’s what December looks like for me.

  1. Write 2 insanely useful blog posts for you 

If you’ve got a question about something swimming related that you want covered in depth in a blog post – email me; rory(at)icanswimfast.com

2. Get active helping triathletes on Facebook

There are interesting articles. Tips & advice. And some extra motivation to get your ass in the water and dominating life on the SwimFast Facebook page. I’d love to see you there, too!

3. Get my eating habits in check

🔸What you eat.
🔸When you eat.
🔸 How much you eat.

They all have a massive impact on how you feel, how you perform (and how good you look in a speedo 😁).

December is typically a month that we go off the rails with eating. Then in January we try to set crazy, insane goals to get our lives and training back together.

I want to set up my 2017 habits now, so January will be easier 🙂

Your turn:

The days, months and years keep getting faster and faster. I have no idea how we are in December already?

One of my greatest fears is that life will pass me by so quickly that it’s over before I even know it.

Perhaps Olivier’s success or seeing how I hit my workout goals in November will get you started on achieving yours.

Set up your goals for December today. Take a look at your long term goals. Break them down into short term objectives. Then email me or comment below with what you want to achieve in December. A little accountability never hurt nobody.


goal of effortless swimming

November 2016 Goals - Have You Set Yours?

Don’t you just love getting a new piece of equipment? Or workout gear?

Like a sweet new pair of cleats or a new swim suit? There’s something about that freshness. Like it holds some sort of magic because it’s never seen a bad workout or a tough day. It gives you that motivation to go out and smash your next workout.

I get that same feeling at the start of a new season.  It doesn’t matter if it’s a new swim season or tri season. Or a new season in my life like a new job. It’s exciting  because it’s filled with possibilities and opportunities.

It’s like a book of blank pages, waiting for you to write whatever you want.

I recently got home from a trip back to the US. I spent a week coaching and hanging out with university team I swam for in college.  They’re kicking off the the first couple weeks of their new season so it was a great opportunity to sharpen up my skills and learn some new things.

At the start of the season each swimmer on the team has their first goal meeting of the season with their coach. This isn’t new. Every swimmer on the team does it. And every swimmer that’s gone through that swim program before them has done it too.

In the goal meeting, the swimmer and coach discuss the events they will race that year. They talk goal times they want to hit. Stroke weaknesses they want to fix. And a whole bunch of other stuff that will help them end the year in a better place than they started it. They also set the standard for their accountability. With great goals comes great commitment…

In one of my goal meetings back in 2010 I remember sitting down with my coach and setting the the goal of “effortless swimming”. (You can read that meeting recap from 2010 here) I wanted to build a stroke that looked fluid, flowing and effortless to any one watching me swim.

I spent that entire year training my technique, my fitness and my mind to make fast swimming look and feel easy.

That’s cute, Rory. But what the hell does “effortless swimming” even mean? You can’t touch it or feel it, can you? And let’s be honest we all know a year is waaaay to long for someone like me to concentrate for.

True. On it’s own the goal of effortless swimming would ultimately lead to a long and painful waste of time. But I didn’t just set a goal of effortless swimming in that meeting.

To help me achieve my “airy fairy” goal I created smaller, more tangible goals. These were goals that I needed to hit on a daily, weekly or monthly basis. Goals were clearly defined, easy to measure and lined up with my ultimate season goals.

The key to my success lay here… If I crossed off the smaller goals every day, at the end of the season I’d have my goal of effortless swimming.

I still keep this approach to my goal setting today. My goals may look a little different to what they looked like back then, but the process is still the same. It’s a formula that works, and so I’ll continue to use it!

If you’ve never set small tangible goals for yourself before, I want you to start today. You’ll be surprised with what you are able to achieve in a month if you start right now.

To help you, I’m to to start posting my goals for the upcoming month on the blog. Each month I’ll post up the three things I’m going to be working on that month. There’ll only ever be three, no more (you should do the same). Three is a manageable number and I know it’s possible to get three things done in a month!

Here are my November Goals:

  1. Kick off SwimFast’s Free Programing – Yeah baby 🙂
  2. Hit 5 Quality work out days each week this month (I rest on Friday’s and Tuesdays)
  3. Get active helping triathletes on Instagram again – it’s been a long time since I was on there!

Your turn:

If it will help you, I want you to post up three goals for the month of November. There’s something powerful about putting our goals (no matter how small they may be) out in public. To help you a little more I’ll sweeten the deal for you.

If you share this blog post with a friend and put your goals for November in the comments I’ll enter you into a draw. The winner will get a sweet SwimFast cap and a SwimFast towel shipped to them (any where in the world).

All you have to do is:

  1. Put your goals down in the comments.

  2. Share this post with a friend

You could be receiving some sweet as orange swag in the mail!


goal of effortless swimming

Three Ways To Pay The Price Of Fast Swimming

We all want to swim fast.

Let’s be honest, at the core of your triathlon quest (and your swim quest) is the goal of getting quicker.

But Rory, “I’m just here to have fun.. and for the community.”

I call BULL!

If I offered you a legal “magic pill” that made you a little faster when you woke up tomorrow, you’d take it. You’d love the speed, it would make everything more fun.

You know it would.

Here’s A Promise

Whatever your version of fast looks like, you that you can have it.

But like most things in life, it won’t come for free.

This Is How I Know

I’ve spent nearly 14 years working on pool decks around the world. I have helped athletes of all shapes, sizes, ages and motivations… I’m yet to meet anyone who isn’t capable of their own version of fast, efficient swimming.

And yet, not all of them have achieved their potential.

There is a reason for that:

They Didn’t Pay The Mistress

What?

Yes, that’s what I said; “They didn’t pay the mistress”.

Get your mind out of the gutter or wherever it is you’ve taken that statement.

Let Me Explain

The water is a wicked mistress.

“Mistress”
Definition:
 “A woman in a position of authority or control.”

The water is a woman. This is a fact. She is beautiful. She controls most of what you do with her. She can make your life and your swimming very difficult.

But if you treat her right… If you spend quality time with her… If you follow her rules she’ll reward you with fast times that feel easy.

Disrespect her and you’ll pay with pain and frustration.

“Pay Your Dues”
Definition:
 “To earn the right to have something because you worked hard.”

Nothing in the water is given, nothing. It’s earned.

We are land based animals and we do not swim instinctively.

The ability to move through the water (which we call “swimming”) is a skill. Like any skill it must be learned and mastered.

You must earn the right to have speed in the water. You pay for your efficiency and the ability to move through the water effortlessly.

If you want to swim well, you must pay your dues. It’s as simple as this:

You Must Pay The Mistress.

Start Right Now

Here are three ways you can start paying right now.

1. Schedule Your Swims.

Open your calendar, your diary or your phone right now and decide which days you will be swimming.

Write down the 3 days you will be swimming and the time of the day that you are going to the pool. Mark it as busy and important and don’t let “life” change that appointment.

If it’s not in your calendar, it’s not going to happen consistently. And you’re not going to get the results you’re looking for.

Pro tip;

– Try to swim on the same days and times each week. This makes it easy for you to follow the pattern and routine

– Some people are evening people and others are morning people. Whichever time works best for you will work best for you.

– Success rates are higher for people who commit to swimming in the morning. Because they get it out of the way first thing and then nothing can jeopardize it later in the day. Having said that, I have seen swimmers create success by training at lunch time or in the evenings.

If fast swimming is important enough, you make it fit your schedule.

2. Make Your Goal Effort And Consistency

With everything else going on in your life you won’t always be able to control exactly how you feel in the water. There are times when you will feel amazing and powerful. And other times when it will feel like you are swimming through syrup.

Regardless of how the water feels each day, commit to giving the same effort every time you get in the water.

You can control how you attack your workout. Give 100% of whatever you have to give.

If you can’t hit your goal times or your pace is off, do the best you can. Focus on giving your best effort today, the results will come from there.

3. Log your progress

I track the progress of all my swimmers. I write their times for every repeat in every session. It gets scribbled down in my book while we’re on the pool deck like this:

And then it gets emailed to them the next morning like this:

With their times logged we can look back and marvel at the progress that has been made.

If you don’t write it down, it’s tough to remember where you’ve come from. There’s a lot of satisfaction that comes from seeing your improvements.

Action Step Recap:

1. Schedule your swims

2. Make your goal effort and consistency

3. Log your progress

P.S.  What tactics do you use to help you stay consistent in paying the mistress??

I genuinely want to know. Comment and share below!


The Olympic Dream

Thank you is definitely where I will start this post. The support I have received over the past week, the past month, the past year, the last 10 years has been absolutely incredible. Honestly the words on this page will never be enough to truly reflect the gratitude I feel. Thank you.

Ten years ago, just a couple of months after starting to swim competitively, I had the opportunity to represent Malawi at the Commonwealth Games in Manchester, England. It was at that point I knew I was going to be on a journey chasing a dream for many years to come. That journey came to an end last week in South Africa. It didn’t end the way I thought it was going to end, it wasn’t really the result I worked for, and to be honest I am disappointed with what went down on paper as the final result. But what I can tell you is that I am satisfied.

It’s weird being disappointed and satisfied at the same time. As I just said, I am disappointed with the times I swam last week and the positions I finished. I am disappointed that the hard work I put in, the sacrifices I have made, the commitment I swore to did not pay off in the way I wanted.

Yet I am peacefully content with everything. I did everything I could and that fact alone is good enough for me. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a big fan of losing. I don’t think you can be a competitive athlete if you don’t mind losing. Yet strangely enough the cliche that titled my first ever blog post holds true. “Life is about the journey, enjoy the ride”. I am satisfied because I know that I committed 100% to my dream. I am satisfied because I don’t regret doing or not doing anything leading up to last weeks Olympic Trials. I am satisfied because I honestly could not have given anything more and I am proud of that.

You see friends, I believe life is as much about having the balls to put yourself out there, committing 100% and taking responsibility for our lives as it is about achieving success. I think my greatest fear is that as I grow older I will allow life to get in the  way of my dreams, I’ll get caught up in my day to day struggles and forget about what I really want to achieve. I never want to stop dreaming big, or start thinking “practically”, I don’t want to be the guy that makes excuses for why I can’t do something or blame others for any inabilites.

Myself with Neil Versfeld (9th in the 200 Breaststroke at the 2008 Beijing Olympics) and Terence Parkin (2nd in the 200 Breaststroke at the 2000 Sydney Olympics)

My Olympic Dream was a big dream, but I have lived like it was a reality for the last couple of years. I am proud of that. The journey has been one of a kind and incredibly rewarding. I’ve had the opportunity to see amazing places because of my swimming. I have met and raced against some very cool people, I’ve had incredible doctors, surgeons, therapists and trainers help me through my injuries. I’ve worked with awesome coaches and have seen and felt support from friends that gave me goosebumps. I received emotional and financial help from a family that loves me unconditionally, and have shared most of the journey with an incredible woman who stood by me through it all.

I may not have made the Olympic cut but I wouldn’t change any of my experiences for the world.

Find your Olympic Dream my friends and follow it like there is no tomorrow.

“The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not to win but to take part, just as the most important thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle. The essential thing is not to have conquered but to have fought well.”  – Pierre de Coubertin, IOC President 1896 – 1925.


Matthew 17:20

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The photo that graced the cover of the Whitworthian.            Courtesy of Greg Moser

It's been a really, really long time since I've been on here. I can't give you any one particular reason why but as I make my final preparations for the South African Olympic Trials I feel the need to put out a thought or two :-)

The last few weeks have been a bit of a roller-coaster, one that has been incredible and bitterly disappointing at the same time. The end of March saw me swim in my last NCAA DIII National Championships in Indianapolis, Indiana, a meet that I savored up as much as I could but one that I would rather forget quickly. I had some very lofty goals going into the meet and based on what I have done in practice and duel meets this season I knew that my body and mind were in the right place to achieve each one of the goals I had.

For one reason or another that was not to be though. I struggled through the meet, the timing of my stroke was off, the rhythm, the feel was all out of sync. Coach Steve and I could fix it one moment and see brilliance and then lose it the next moment.  I ran across a blog post on Breaststroke written by a swim coach whose swimmer seemed to be going through the same deal I was during the week and his thoughts summed my feelings up perfectly.

"I swear sometimes that breaststroke is one of the great puzzles of the universe.  Sometimes it is more spiritual than scientific.  Sometimes it is the girl you had a crush on in school who is mean to you when you smile at her. Sometimes it is the beast you tamed and caged that decides to break out of the zoo or the puppy that runs away on your birthday.  Damn you breaststroke.  Why can't you just show up for your damn appointments on time!  We scheduled this appointment six months ago!  How rude!" 

Despite the frustrations I still managed to win both the 100 & 200 Breaststroke allowing me to successfully cross off one of my goals for the week. But I knew something had to be done before we headed to Olympic Trials.

The last two weeks since NCAA's have been incredible, both in the pool and outside of it. I've done things in the pool that I have never done before, but outside of the water I have come to realize a number of things about the journey I have been on for the last 10 years. What I have experienced since returning from NCAA's has given me a huge boost of confidence as I begin my journey to Durban on Sunday. I'm excited to race.

"I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there' and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you." - Matthew 17:20 



Never Stop Dreaming

Tonight I swam the last of the races on my program this week here in Port Elizabeth. The first of which was the 200 Breaststroke, the second was the 400 Medley relay. I am very happy with the results from both swims and have nothing but positive things to say about my week of racing here in South Africa.

In the heats of the 200 Breaststroke this morning, I dived in and my goggles fell off and lodged themselves between my nose and my mouth. As hard as I tried not to freak out, it was incredibly difficult to try and maintain a stroke count and pace though the 200 meters. I somehow managed to do it however and set myself up for a decent final this evening.

Coming into this meet I had a best time of 2.17.95 in the 200 Breaststroke which I swam last summer. The goals for the race laid out like this in my mind; I would be ecstatic with a 2.14, very happy with a 2.15, happy with a 2.16 and a bit upset if we were still stuck on a 2.17. I touch the wall in 2 minutes and 15.88 seconds and am very happy with the result. I picked up the silver medal, behind Neil Versfeld who swam a great race and qualified for the World Championships in Shanghai later this year.  Because none of these races have been broadcast anywhere this week, here is a video of the race. I am in a black cap, lane 5 with very pasty skin.

My final race of the week was swimming the breaststroke leg of the 400 Medley relay. After my individual breaststroke final I said I was a little disappointed in the fact that I didn't put up a time that I knew my body was capable of so I wanted to find out what I was capable of this evening. Despite the relay being about 25 mins after the 200 Breaststroke final I managed to put up a 1.02.01 split which I am very happy about! A great way to end the week.

It's really been a good week. I didn't manage to qualify for the World Championship team going to Shanghai, but I did qualify for selection for the World University Games which will be held in Shenzhen, China in August this year. I will now wait to find out whether I will be included on the team. I also broke into the top 100 rankings in the world for the first time in my swimming career. According to Swimnews.com I am currently ranked 78th in the 50 Breast, 97th in the 100 Breast, and 66th in the 200 Breast.

It's been a great year. I cannot thank everyone who has supported me enough. My wonderful girlfriend, Carla for putting up with all my crap! My parents for their continued moral and financial support. My coaches for their insight and faith. The Whitworth Swim team for their daily inspiration and all my friends all over the world. Thank you, thank you, thank you!  Back to Spokane tomorrow. Back in the pool on Monday. We have work to do friends.