Are you struggling to improve your swimming, despite working hard and crushing all your training sessions? You may have hit a fitness plateau!
Plateauing can feel very frustrating, but there’s hope! Try these 5 tips to break free from that swimming plateau and rekindle your love for the sport.
What is a Plateau?
Athletes in all sports experience plateaus. In swimming specifically, athletes who have plateaued often struggle to swim faster in races. They may be training hard, but all those hours in the pool aren’t translating to personal bests in competition.
When you have plateaued, you might feel “stuck,” or that you have achieved your full potential, and there’s nowhere left to go from where you’re at.
It’s very common for young swimmers to plateau, but it can happen at any age! Whether your plateau lasts a few months or a few years, you can break out of it. Here’s how!
5 Ways to Break a Swimming Plateau
1. Mix Up Your Training
If you have been training the same way for a while, your body may have adapted, and your usual routine is no longer challenging. It’s time to mix it up! Start a new training plan, or incorporate new dryland workouts into your routine to challenge your body in new ways. If you’re in need of guided Workouts, download the MySwimPro app!
Switching up your training can also include adding more IM or stroke work to your workouts, or trying a new mix of speedwork during your swims. If you have been swimming longer workouts at a low intensity, try a shorter, high-intensity workout instead!
2. Set a New Goal
Sometimes breaking free from a plateau is as simple as setting a new goal to work toward. Sign up for a triathlon, open water race or swim meet — maybe try a new event that you’ve never done before!
Whatever your goals, make sure they are SMART:
- Specific: What do you want to achieve?
- Measurable: How will you measure success?
- Attainable: Is this goal realistic?
- Relevant: Why are you doing this? Does this goal fit into your overall plan for yourself?
- Time-Bound: When will you achieve this goal? Set a target date!
Related: Learn More About SMART Goal Setting
3. Remove the Pressure to Perform
Sometimes the pressure we feel from our peers (or from ourselves!) causes us to stress out, which can affect our performance in the water.
If this is the case for you, it might be helpful to spend some time just having FUN in the water! When you’re hyper focused on hitting a specific time or swimming a certain distance perfectly, your enjoyment of the sport can fade.
Incorporate more of your favorite types of workouts, or train with friends to get out of your head and reconnect with why you love swimming. Swimming doesn’t have to be so high stakes…don’t take yourself too seriously!
4. Rest & Recharge
Some swimmers plateau because they are pushing themselves too hard. When was the last time you took a step back? A rest week may be just what you need.
During your time off, do other workouts you enjoy to help reset your body. Go for a hike, try yoga, or take the entire week off from exercise altogether!
Spend time working on your mindset, too. If you have a goal in mind, meditate and visualize yourself achieving that goal. When you have a positive outlook, it’s amazing what you are capable of.
5. Be Patient
Every swimmer experiences a plateau at some point. If you’re new to swimming, you may have seen huge improvements at first, and when those start to taper off, it can be challenging to stay motivated.
Be patient with yourself! Stay consistent with training, nutrition and recovery, and you’ll get to where you want to be. Swimming is about enjoying the journey, not just the big moments.
Remember: Michael Phelps didn’t become the greatest swimmer in history with just a few years of training. It took decades of hard work and consistency — and a plateau or two — to win all 28 of his medals!
Bonus: Switch Your Schedule or Location
One final bonus tip to round out our list! If you have been following the same workout schedule at the same pool for years, try switching it up! Go to a different pool, or swim at a different time of day. A change in scenery goes a long way, and can refresh your outlook on the sport.
If you’re struggling with a swimming plateau, we are here for you! Share your experiences in the comments, and join the MySwimPro Global Community Facebook Group for extra accountability and inspiration.