Befriend the fun for maximum gains

Posted Ella Villas Articles

A few years ago, when I was coaching a kids year round swim team, a couple of the 10-year old girls didn’t want to swim.

Instead, they wanted to play games, like blow bubbles underwater.

They actually didn’t do what everyone else was doing (probably doing 8x50s or 5x100s or something).

So as the coach, what do you think they expected me to do? I’m guessing, yell at them, punish them, or just make them join in with what the others were doing.

But that would be pointless. They would likely go along with my demands, so that they didn’t get in trouble.

But that would not result in them enjoying swimming, or wanting to do it more.

And maybe they really didn’t want to be swimmers. Nothing wrong with that!

Anyway, instead of using my power as a coach, I asked them: “What do you want to do?” They said they wanted to play. I said please finish your game. Do you think you can swim 2 laps after you’re done, then go back to playing your game?

They agreed to that. We struck a balance of them swimming a little and playing a little.

It’s the only possible way they were going to swim- giving them an option, and allow them to do what they wanted to do.

(If they said no to my offer, I would give them the option of getting out as well)

So we need to treat ourselves as I treated those little girls.

We need to make swimming fun, a joy, and not be taskmasters to ourselves.

What is your version of play in the water? How can you incorporate that into your practice? It’s more important than it might seem. Maybe for you it’s not blowing bubbles.

Maybe for you it’s just doing things that aren’t in the effort of “getting faster”, but rather just to enjoy the water.

I like to put fins on and do some laps doing dolphin kick.
Or just do some breastroke.
Or use a kick board and chat with a friend.

Or get in the hot tub. 🙂

The motivation you need to achieve your goals will come partly from not being structured all the time. You need this kind of play and fun in order to keep consistent with your workouts, and avoid the dreaded burnout.

If you want a way to mix things up while staying on track, we have 12-week swim training plans with explanatory videos in our Tri Swim Success online triathlon swimming course. You can get all of this, plus open water swim training by going to: Tri Swim Success

Keep befriending the water!