Become a “spiritual swimmer” to succeed?

Posted Ella Villas Articles

Thanks to everyone who responded to yesterday’s message about self talk! So many positive comments that were all very nice to read.

I wanted to highlight one of them. Sometimes triathletes and struggling swimmers feel like they are all alone in their quest to get a better freestyle. Not so much!

Great post and so true.I just completed my 2nd International Triathlon last week. I did the same race last and it’s was my first OWS of any distance. I was freaked out for all the reasons mentioned on your post and my swim time reflected it.

Plus the anxiety, hyperventilation, etc were horrible. Not this year though. Better physical training. But more importantly, better mental and spiritual training. No more negative self-talk. I actually enjoyed the swim this year and cut my time by 40%!! And had a much better overall time for the race.Thanks for your help, great articles and posts.

Sam Johnson
Raleigh, NC”


Sam mentions a couple of important things here:

1. Anxiety. We’ve all experienced this. Doing an open water race is one way to put a magnifying glass on internal issues! And the old way of thinking is that this is something to be ashamed of, that one “shouldn’t” have anxiety or fear around something like swimming.

After all, “toughness” is what matters, right?

Not exactly. Often trying to “toughen out” something like an open water swim can actually make anxiety worse, because you’re ignoring it. When you ignore an emotion, it tends to come back stronger and bit you in the butt!

By putting issues like this in the forefront, swimming in the open water is a great opportunity to get in touch with these feelings. It means you have a chance to improve yourself not just in your race, but in your life as well.

2. Better mental and spiritual training. Wha what? Spiritual training? What is this? Well believe it or not, this is at the heart of success in swimming & triathlon. Notice that Sam mentioned “actually enjoying” the swim and also cutting 40% off his time.


These go hand in hand. Without actually enjoying swimming, a 40% drop would be highly improbable- and even if you could achieve it, what would be the point if enjoyment wasn’t part of the deal?

The more Chris and I have been involved in coaching triathletes, the more we see the importance of the mental side of things.

“Spiritual” means different things to different people.

Some think it must be religious.

The way I see it is: purposeful and mindful actions towards a goal.

There is more meaning to accomplishing these goals than just the sake of accomplishment, and getting to your “WHY” and getting to your purpose here will allow this kind of positive mental approach to occur with swimming.

See you in the water.