At the end of a Learn to Ocean Swim clinic, as the group gathers on the water’s edge one last time, I love to finish by going over what they’ve learned and experienced during a short but action-packed session.
It’s a great reminder to participants that they’ve probably accomplished a lot more than they thought they would, but it also serves as an opportunity to supercharge their confidence and boost their self-belief.
You see, almost everyone I have ever coached has drastically underestimated their ability and potential as an ocean swimmer.
Even as I mention that we’ve been swimming for the best part of an hour and that we would’ve swum ~1,500m, they’re still not convinced when I suggest that in that amount of time, they could’ve easily swum across Bondi and back.
Sometimes we just tend to overthink things.
The body almost certainly has greater potential than the mind.
In this example, before the clinic, the idea of a double-crossing of Bondi would’ve seemed a pipe dream, yet in just an hour in the water, they were already challenging their thinking and starting to believe in themselves.
A similar situation would occur when I was coaching private lessons.
A classic scenario would play out like this: I get a call from a swimmer whose goal is to swim across the bay. They suggest we start with half a dozen lessons to work up to it. So, they’re taken aback when I suggest we just swim across the bay in the first lesson… and they do!
Another example of self-doubt becoming self-belief is on our Swim The Whitsundays tours where the jewel in the swim crown is the 5km Whitehaven Beach swim.
Most guests have already made up their minds before the tour that they won’t be able to make the distance and will happily settle for something shorter. Yet, from the moment they board, we start to plant the seed and by the time they dive into the water at Hill Inlet, they are starting to believe.
And, do you know what? They all make it!
How do they do it? Well, aside from extremely motivating guides, the swim is straight and in warm shallow water (sometimes with a tailwind current), which ultimately allows them to relax and enjoy the swim in their own time.
In all these examples, the most gratifying moment is when the impossible becomes possible. The celebratory high fives and smiles are infectious, yet the best thing to come out of the experience is knowing that these swimmers will no longer doubt themselves.
If you’re hesitant about trying a new swim or a new, longer distance, hear me say it one final time… you can do it!