It’s easy to develop poor training habits, especially if you swim on your own. But which bad habits hurt swimming performance the most?

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From a coaches perspective, these are some of the top habits swimmers should focus on improving to get the most out of their swimming.

1) Not Putting in the Time and Effort Required

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Success does not happen over night. It’s important that you respect the amount of time and training that is required to achieve a specific goal. Swimming is like a part-time (or full-time) job. You have to be on point and ready to go even during the most inconvenient times. It’s hard, but having an accountability partner makes this much easier.

2) Letting Emotions Get In The Way

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You can only control what you can control. Letting external factors or emotions get in the way of your training and race plans is an easy way to detract from the goal you’re trying to achieve. When you’re at the pool or gym, focus on that, and nothing else.

3) Comparing Yourself to Others

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In swimming, it’s easy to compare yourself to others. Whether you’re looking at training distance or race times, this competitive drive that is an asset most of the times, can sabotage you during training. It can be a real confidence killer to see other swimmers putting up faster times than you. Even worse, it can make you deviate your training plan, causing you to lose focus on your own goals and improvement.

4) Skipping Strength Training

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“Most swimmers only want to swim”. For competitive athletes, strength training is a crucial part of a well-rounded training program. It’s important that your approach is structured, because randomly choosing a strength program because it happens to be what others are doing is a sure way to get injured. See our post on 4 Principles For Effective & Sustainable Strength Training.

5) Overtraining

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Rest and recovery days are the key to boosting performance. If you want to swim fast, you have to train fast. This is only possible if you’re well rested. While tough workouts are necessary to force the physiological adaptations that make you a better runner, those improvements don’t happen during the swim workout – they happen when you’re resting.

6) Not Listening to Your Body

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It’s important to listen do your body’s warning signals. Just because you’re body is used to swimming 40,000 meters per week, doesn’t mean you’ll always need to do that. Staying too rigid to a training plan and failing to make changes when your body isn’t adapting to the training load is a recipe for disaster. Smart swimmers pay attention to aches and pains because they can quickly turn into serious injuries.

7) Making Excuses

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Don’t skip workouts, it’s as easy as that. Suck it up and get the workout done!

8) Not Asking Questions

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There’s a ton of information and advice in the swimming community; some of it is great and some if it is complete garbage. A smart swimmer will approach every blog (including this one), report or video with a bit of skepticism and see if there’s a group with credibility that backs up what the author has written.

9) Snacking Before and After Every Swim

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For competitive swimmers putting in hard or long workouts, pre-fueling and refueling make sense, but for many swimmers, they’re over doing it before and after their swims. “Your nutrition decisions should actually depend more on what you did yesterday (than on the workout you just finished)” says two-time Olympic coach for USA Triathlon.

10) Training Harder Rather Than Smarter

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There’s a place and a time for high volume workouts and long lactate sets. Focusing on technique and the quality of swim session is most important when it comes to maximizing your time spent in the water. Here’s Why Technique Is So Important To Swimming Fast.

Related: 10 Steps to Swimming Smarter Freestyle

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