Are you the competitive type?
Do you want to beat your friends in races? Beat your fellow swimmers in the water, even in practice?
Or are you mostly just competitive with yourself?
One thing I’ve struggled with most of my life is being overly-competitive and overly-critical of myself.
I believe competition IS healthy. But the question is WHY you are competitive, what you hope to achieve, and how are you handling things when they don’t go the way that you wanted them to.
The most damaging thing you can do is beat yourself up for not performing as you wanted to.
In swimming, in racing, and in every part of life- this bashing of yourself is like a toxic poison to your mental state, and will slowly (or even quickly) affect your physical performance in a negative way.
The “inner critic” can act as a drill sergeant… and many of us grew up with parents and/or coaches that contributed to this voice in our heads- and still do, even 30, 40, or 50 years later!
Think about this in your practices and your races: Love your competition.
This isn’t saying you need to back off in intensity. This is what we mean when we say “befriend the water” (BTW).
The water itself may in some way be competition for you!
If this is you, and you are competing with the water, changing your mental outlook here will make a world of difference in your stroke, and in your race results.
Love the competition.
Befriend the water.
And still go out there and kick ass!