Choose Excellence in Everything

“My attitude was any time I had an opportunity to practice a start or do a dive into the water, I did it as well as I could… In training doing turns, you do a thousand turns in a practice. Well, you might as well do a thousand of them very well, rather than get lazy and get into bad habits.” –Tracy Caulkins

In the course of every swim practice there are things don’t quite tickle your chlorinated fancy:

  • A set that isn’t your main stroke
  • A drill that you think is “useless”
  • A breathing pattern that you struggle with
  • Doing a kick set when you consider yourself a lousy kicker
  • An aerobic set when you are a fast twitch sprint type

But the way you do these things… the things that don’t “matter”…

Well, they do matter.

Excellence in everything

There is no such thing as a meaningless detail in the water.

Because swimmers are battling against resistance that is nearly 800 times denser than air, those small details quickly begin to compound.

A streamline that isn’t tight?

(Now, let’s not take this to the extreme and assign everything equal importance… of course, certain sets take priority, but with each set, each length, there is something to be focused on and “excelled” at, whether it’s swimming with slow, perfect technique, or blasting away an effort 200 off the blocks.)

  • Warming up? Warm up with excellence.
  • Doing a drill set? Drill with excellence.
  • Sprint set? Sprint with… well, you know.

You have two options (and outcomes) with the time and effort you choose to put forward in the water.

You can do everything to the best of your ability, whether it’s something you don’t feel like doing or if it’s something you “like,” or you can drop half-an-effort, and get half-a-result.

Excellence in everything = excellence is the default.

This kind of attitude isn’t about winning everything (aka sprinting warm-up and warm-down), but rather, doing everything to the best of your ability.

Whether it’s your main stroke or not.

Whether you like the set or not.

Whether you are fully motivated or not.

And let’s not kid ourselves here…

Excellence in everything gives you a MASSIVE competitive advantage…

Because excellence becomes the default.

You don’t need to “try” on race day…

You don’t need to force yourself to pull out a performance from you that only exists in the best circumstances…

You can just lean on your training habits to carry you to faster swimming then ever.

You don’t need to “try” to be at your best…

Because excellence is just the thing you do.

Whether it’s your start, your turns, your race strategy—when the default is excellence you get to skip past the overthinking and uncertainty that cripples swimmers in competition.

Whatever the workout is, whatever stroke you are asked to use on the main set, whatever comes your way…

Choose excellence.

See you in the water,


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