Ultimate Guide to Setting Competitive Swimming Goals

Goal Setting: Dream Big, but Dream Smart

Competitive swimmers should be excited about setting goals. This is a time for you to decide where you are going this season and define what success will be for you.

Before you set out to achieve these swimming goals, you first need a plan. You would not take a road trip without a map (or GPS), so why would you start your season with no swimming goal roadmap?

It’s important to put energy and thought into your goals if you want to be successful. If you just keep them in your head, they’re not going anywhere!

Our Athlete Approved Guide to Setting Competitive Swimming Goals includes these 5 steps:

  1. Have a goal meeting
  2. Identify five types of goals
  3. Write them on paper
  4. Use coaches and teammates for support
  5. Understand your responsibility

Set a Goal Meeting

Open up communication with your swim coach about the goals you want to achieve and how they can help. Together, work out a plan of action that will get them done!

If you are already in the middle of your season, know it is never too late to start.

Create a road map with Practice Goals, Technique Goals, Personal Improvement Goals, Mid-Season Goals, and your Ultimate End-of-Season Goal.

Five Types of Goals for Competitive Swimmers

Be smart in developing a plan of action. You can do this by developing five types of goals:

  • Practice Goals
  • Technique Goals
  • Personal Improvement Goals
  • Mid-Season Goals
  • Ultimate End-of-Season Goal

Practice Goals are things to work on during swim practice to help you achieve your Ultimate End-of-Season Goal. For example, you want to be able to complete 20 x 100’s on a certain interval while holding a specific time.

Technique Goals are stroke and race strategy improvements. This can things like fixing your pull pattern or taking 5 butterfly kicks off each wall. You need to work and perfect these things in practice before they translate to your race.

Personal Improvement Goals are non-swimming related. These can include having 100% practice attendance or showing up 30 minutes early to stretch. The great thing about this type of goal is they are things you have 100% control over accomplishing.

Mid-Season Goals are a check-point halfway through your season. These should be time specific. Use these as a check-up to reevaluate. If you are behind schedule, make a change. If you are ahead of schedule, you have the ability to readjust your Ultimate End-of-Season Goal.

Your Ultimate End-of-Season Goal is what you are setting out to accomplish for the season. This is why you wake up every morning. These are specific things you can control like going a certain time. For example, you want to go 1:52.49 in the 200 meter freestyle. Or you want to qualify for a certain meet. This goal is your purpose.

Put Your Swimming Goals on Paper

A goal is not a goal until it’s written down. Write down your goals so you can track them and achieve them.

The greatest swimmer of all-time, Michael Phelps, was known to do this. He kept a book of everything he wanted to accomplish. 

Athlete Approved Tip: A trick to staying motivated is to write your goals on paper and tape them above your bed. They will be the first thing you see when you wake up and the last thing you see before you go to sleep. 

Use Coaches and Teammates for Support

It is crucial to share your aspirations with coaches and teammates. They will be there for guidance, encouragement, and support.

A good coach or teammate will make it impossible for you to ignore your goals when the season gets tough (and trust us, it will). 

You should also be a good teammate and help your fellow swimmers accomplish their goals. What you put into the team will eventually come back to you tenfold.

Negativity is contagious and spreads easily. If you find yourself being negative, take a deep breath. Then follow it up with three positives.

The “allergic to weight room” person often discourages members of the group from working hard. They do this out of fear. As long as the group is mediocre, they can hide. When the group excels, they get exposed.

When you hear a player or group of players say, “Oh why are you doing extra?”, take note, you just met cowards. Beware, this personality often runs in packs. They don’t like to be alone. You have to be strong to fight against their barbs when you’re pushing yourself to be better.

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Your Goals are Your Responsibility

Your goals are yours, and it is your responsibility to achieve them. Coaches will provide the tools necessary; they cannot do the work for you. In order to reach those goals, it’s up to you!

One of our favorite things about swimming is what you put into it is what you are going to get out of it.

It is not like other sports where an unfortunate ball bounce or a bad referee call can determine the outcome of a game. Swimming is 100% objective.

Conclusion on Setting Competitive Swimming Goals

An athlete must commit to his/her goals everyday and never look back. Use these 5 Athlete Approved tips to help you reach those goals.

We will leave you with one of our favorite quotes:

“I hated every minute of training, but I said, Don’t quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion.” 

Muhammad Ali

The pain and sacrifice you feel during your training will be rewarded tenfold when you accomplish the end goal. Even if you come up short, at least you can rest easy knowing you failed with grace and dignity.

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