Positive Ideas and Thoughts for Long Swims

jenschumacherjenschumacher Charter Member
edited March 2012 in General Discussion
Per @loneswimmer's request, this thread will be a collection of quotes, ideas, phrases, cue words, or any other form of positive self-talk you use or have heard others use to get in a good frame of mind for those long, challenging swims.

*Not to be confused with the aphorisms thread, I see this as a more in-depth discussion of how you use certain thoughts to get out of the 'low points' in swimming and extend the 'high points.'

Here's a good one from @KarenT:
I usually start a long training swim by thinking to myself "I have nothing to do today except swim". I love the luxury of it - a chance not to think about work, or my to-do list. I try to make it like a big present to myself, rather than worrying about spending all that time in the water. I give myself complete permission not to think about anything I'd like a break from thinking about.


  • loneswimmerloneswimmer Admin
    edited March 2012
    You can’t cross the sea merely by standing and staring at the water.
    - Rabindranath Tagore

    I'm never doing this shit again - everyone

  • I like telling myself,
    "The muscles are strong
    They know what to do
    My job is to give them oxygen"
  • evmoevmo San FranciscoAdmin
    "Make love to the water."

    This one's not so much about preparing for a long swim... more about finding a better feel for the water when I'm feeling cr*ppy.

    Laugh all you want -- it works!
  • dc_in_sfdc_in_sf San FranciscoMember
    Whenever I'm in a bad patch, I always go with the ever popular "This too shall pass". This is also an important reminder when hitting that rare warm spot in San Francisco Bay as well... (though after all of @loneswimmer posts about Sandy Cove, I'm beginning to feel that SF Bay is positively tropical)

    http://notdrowningswimming.com - open water adventures of a very ordinary swimmer

  • One of my favourites if I'm struggling is to remind myself: "there are no emergencies in marathon swimming" - i.e. there's very little that can't wait for 30 minutes before being reviewed, and the desire to get out is rarely the same as the need to get out. (Of course, I know that there are some emergencies, but in the mundane course of a swim...).
  • jenschumacherjenschumacher Charter Member
    @evmo haha I saw yours last night and had a bad swim this morning and that's all I could think of! Sort of worked though...

    @dc_in_sf that's one of my favorites, I always remind myself that, like every other swim, I'll wind up standing on shore and it will be over at a point.
  • PabloPablo Member
    This has worked for me the past few weeks.

    I can't out swim the distance, so I'll just out swim the time.
  • ForeverSwimForeverSwim Charter Member
    #1: Being able to mentally accept the task at hand; you can defeat yourself prior to even starting if you do not believe you can complete the journey. I cannot emphasize this enough; our sport is 90% mental, 10% physical - hands down...
    #2: Mentally breaking the swim down into pieces; example: for a 12-hour swim, I break it down into quarters... "I just want the 3-hour mark, and I'm half-way to the half-way point; 6-hours, I'm already half-way done!; 9-hours, already 3/4 way done, and I'm not giving up now!" Same thing I give the 500 free high school swimmers I coach; break it down into chunks, and know where you want to be at each barrier, and then smash right through!
    #3: Think about your body as you are no longer in control, and simply just going on auto-pilot. Think of you "controlling" your body like it is a machine. Called "flow", it allows you to remove yourself from the exercise, and slip into a transcendent state where time and pain seem to just drift away. Similar to a "runner's high", the flow state is typically achieved during the swim, and lasts until completion. Personally, I look back on my channel swims, and it doesn't feel like I completed them, or that they took "that long" to complete! When you slip into the flow, you lose track of time.
    #4: During your long practice swims, focus and remember how you respond when you "start going down" due to exhaustion. How did you resond? Did you allow yourself to self-defeat and give into the pain, or did you focus on your technique and maintain your strength? Get the mental edge of remembering someone that motivates you, or something that inspires you, will help overcome the pain. Visualization is how I get through the rough patches; I picture a boat beside me of family, and friends I have lost cheering me on - when I get that mental image, the hair on my back stands up, I get tears in my eyes, and nothing is stopping me! Find that mental image that can take you over the obstacles
    #5: Enjoy the moment; being out in the middle of the ocean when the sun is coming up is an experience like no other. Have fun, and work hard! You will complete the journey.. No excuses, work hard and GET IT DONE!

    www.darren-miller.com Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania U.S.A.

  • I take a different approach. I have been moderately successful in training myself to achieve "mushin" (Japanese for "no mind"). It's a state where you lose yourself in the motion and are purely living in the "now." I did a four hour pool swim last Saturday and it flew by. The down side is that things tend to blur together and you only have the odd distinct memory of an event.
    I am also trying to practice tummo ("inner fire") which is control of body temperature, but am having less success with that. Fun to try anyway.


    “Moderation is a fatal thing. Nothing succeeds like excess.” - Oscar Wilde

  • mmeadmmead Charter Member
    During Training:

    "Mmmmmmmmmmmm........I'm earning the right to eat three mushroom swiss burgers in one sitting."

    During Swims/Races:

    "I'm not stopping/slowing down because I don't want to tell anyone how crappy I did."

    Maybe I'm simple minded.

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