I wanted to win. Everything. I wanted to lead the lane at practice, I wanted to get my hand on the wall first every time.
However, a single mantra wouldn’t suffice. I had several swimming mantras to complement different competitive situations.
Rabbit. Racing mantra. My college coach at the University of Arizona made me “rabbit.” After several long talks, and many swim practices working on racing strategy, it was determined that I was most comfortable being the race leader. I liked to go out hard and lead from start to finish.
It did not always work for me (silly rabbit!). Especially racing a conference rival and future Olympian Kalyn Keller from USC. In season, at every meeting, I would lead and she would clobber me on the back half of the 500 free, my premier event.
Frank Busch and I spent the entire season working on negative splitting, the technique of progressively increasing pace, resulting in a faster back half than front half of any given swim. Huge challenge. Frustrating challenge. The training mantra developed here: Push.
It was mind numbing for me to restrain myself from letting go on the first half of practice swims during negative split training. I wanted to just Fly (yet another mantra). But with lots of hard work, tears, and some cursing I was finally prepared to challenge Kalyn.
I began my race as the Rabbit and I did Fly. What was different? A surge of adrenaline and confidence, supported by countless hours of mental and physical conditioning aligned to Push me to the wall before my rivals.
I knew this field of athletes wouldn’t be played by my going out fast strategy; my opponents had developed their own strategy to counter my race leading and reel me back in. They knew I would do it. I couldn’t surprise anyone here with my speed. This time I had a new mantra to help me close out my race. And at the halfway point I was ready to go. I fired up my legs and and told my arms to push it. I still flew and I got my hand on the wall first. No one reeled in this rabbit, not this time. It was my first individual national title and I swam the last 25 with a huge grin on my face, knowing I had it in the bag.
Time hasn’t changed me; I still hate to lose. I am still far too competitive for my own good. My mantra keywords still flash in my head when its time to go. While I may not be an all-star anymore, I still like to fly, push, and be a rabbit. I also like to just Go.
Mantras can also be used to relax. Using Loose or Breathe during swim workout cool downs and stretching phases can be very soothing and help positively affect muscle recovery and heart rate.
Of course mantras can be applied to many other aspects of life. During house cleaning and laundry, a mantra like Get It Done comes to mind!
Thanks for taking the time to read about mantras that have enhanced my swimming.
I’d love to hear from the athletes out there about what Mantras have helped you grow as an athlete and achieve your goals.
Until then, please save me a lane!