View Full Version : Losing enthusiasm for swimming

michael martin
April 1st, 2002, 09:19 PM
I'm been swimming since I was 19. I've competed in local, regional, and national masters meets since 1989. This past season I've noticed that I've really lost my desire to swim. Part of this may have been caused by not being able to afford the trip to Nationals this year in Hawaii. And last year I experienced much of these same feelings and my performance at Nationals (Santa Clara) was horrendous. Any suggestions on how I can get excited again?

April 1st, 2002, 11:37 PM
I believe Masters Swimming is about having fun, and in order to have fun, you gotta have people around you, you enjoy. I probably would never have gotten back into swimming if it weren't for my brother and I telling each other, "I'll do it if you do".

Since joining our small club here in New Paltz (we have about 25 members), we (my brother and I) have pushed the social aspect as much as the competitive aspect of swimming. What started out as 2 or 3 of us meeting out at the local watering hole (not the swimming kind :) ) once a week after practice, has turned into 10 to 14. And coincidentally, we have the same numbers who now compete.

There is a folklore (more of a running joke) around our team, of how I got hammered every night at my first Nationals (1999), but still swam beyond my expectations. I don't know, I was there for a good time, and a good time was had. For all you folks out there shaking your heads in disgust, Hey! I had enough years of rice diets and 'healthy' carbo-loading in college.

BTW, thanks for mentioning the "price tag" this years Nationals in Hawaii has. Seems noone really wants to talk about it.


Bert Petersen
April 2nd, 2002, 12:39 AM
Michael : I believe it all has to do with having goals and long- term objectives. I notice that my own interest wanes about the middle of the age-group, when I no longer am the "top dog". So I have taken on a new goal: to be as fast as I was last year. This gets me through those middle years and the next thing you know, here comes a new age-group with all that entails. Perhaps you are looking for something other than fitness and competition. Search your thoughts and discover why you do this to begin with. Then make some targets to shoot for: different strokes, open water etc.,etc. My heart pains to see someone lose interest when there are so many benefits............. Bert

April 2nd, 2002, 08:51 AM
Greets, Michael!

Here's my $.02, take whatcha want, discard the rest :)

Swimming is a life-long sport. You can take a break from it and try something new, and you can come back to it at any time.

I have found that the shelf-life of most of my intense sport interests tends to be about 4 years, and then I get antsy or stuck in a rut, and I need a change, or I feel like I'm being a bad example to the new people in the sport.

I don't feel bad leaving a sport behind for a while, because the best ones are just like swimming - you can always go back. I personally place higher importance on enjoying my sport than in the physical or tangible rewards I receive from it.

What are your priorities in sport and life in general? Is "to be happy" a higher or lower priority "than to acheive"? Where does "to be healthy" fit in?

Maybe it's time to ease up on the swimming - take the summer off and do a different sport that massages your body and your mind in a different way. Come back in the fall and see how the pool makes you feel then.

The key thing is if you go too long at something you're not getting enjoyment out of anymore, you'll burn yourself out and the "not enjoying" can turn to "hating", which takes longer to recover from.

Cdn Masters Swimmer

Tom Ellison
April 2nd, 2002, 10:15 AM
You raise a very interesting topic. I have experienced similar feelings and have witnessed people "burn off" so to speak and walk away from the sport. For me, I found that keeping focused on my goals and aspirations in swimming help me stay the coarse.

I try above all to enjoy the journey and the people around me. I try to show up every morning and swim the best I can. MOST of America is still in bed when I’ve finished 3000/4000 meters at the end of the morning workout. Knowing this helps motivate me. I keep focus on the fact that swimming is the finest means of exercise known to man. I pride myself in the fact that I am not sitting on the sidelines in life and that I am doing my best to get my banged up old frame (my body) as far down the road as possible. Swimming is simply the vehicle that helps me do this.

Winning and swimming fast times are great! Obviously, that is a mission for many of us that compete. Note I said A mission…not the entire mission. Having said that, I believe we can neither win nor lose…unless we walk into the Arena and give it a whack. Winning is a subjective thing….I think the people I swim with every morning are serious winners…yet, many of them will never stand on a gold medal box. They are winners because they are out there in the mornings banging away at keeping fit.

It is ok to feel like it is a grind…because it is a grind sometimes. When this happens, I simply keep focused on the real mission. Keeping fit and enjoying the company of the great people around me...and... helping them do the same.

April 2nd, 2002, 07:14 PM
I've been in masters swimming for about eighteen years and I've also experienced that feeling on occasion. I like SomeChick's advice. What's always worked for me is to back off a bit; say, take a summer off or at least train easily -- not for competition.

But I think the real key is to make sure your goals are still meaningful to you and, if not, to change them (by trying different events, for example) It's important to keep it from becoming a job.

April 3rd, 2002, 08:14 PM
I took a month off one time and it turned into three years before I talked myself into getting back in the pool. That was a year and three months ago, and now that my weight is back down and I'm swimming distances that I've never done before in practices, I'd be afraid to take another "break". At 51, my cholesterol and HDL's/LDL's as well as all my other bloodwork are tremendous and that is my motivation to continue now.

April 3rd, 2002, 10:25 PM
I didn't mean not swimming at all -- I meant (although I didn't say it very clearly) taking a break from meets and "serious" training. I've never willingly gone more than three or four days without swimming, unless I was sick.

Matt S
April 4th, 2002, 06:00 PM

It sounds a bit like you are suffering from "same old/same old" syndrom with respect to your swimming. There are many great ideas in the previous posts, such as: work-out with a group more and try to do some social events with them (When I was a member of Coronado Masters, I looked forward to pizza on Fridays right after work-out. When I was a member of Reston Masters, doughnuts or breakfast after Sat morning workout was a social highlight of the week.), new goals or changing the focus to more fitness/less competition, try different events or open water swimming, or take a swimming sabatical (Dara Torres did pretty well with Tae Bo for a few years before she came back for the Sydney Games). I think the underlying theme here is try something different. Perhaps you have some assumptions about what events/strokes you swim, how you train, or what your goals should be (e.g. if you are measuring your success by how far off you are from your PR's, which you set in your 20's and you have no expectation of ever equaling, that could get a little old after a few seasons). Change 'em, and see what new frontiers you discover.

One principle I follow is that my primary goal for masters swimming is to still be enjoying the experience 40 years from now. This is different than my primary goal when I was in high school and college, which was to lower my personal records as much as possible in the next 4 months. When I ask myself questions such as do I want to join this team, or go to this meet, or even finish this set (when I am having a bad workout), that long range goal adds a lot of clarity to my thinking. Please note that the answer to those questions is often "yes". I have looked for teams that have more members competing in pool meets, gone to large meets, and finished difficult workouts because competition does motivate me. The difference is I do NOT feel COMPELLED to do any of those things when I think the "burn-out" factor exceeds the "motivated" factor. As I have said in other fora, I believe the greatest obstacle to sustained exercise is boredom. I shape my swimming program with that in mind.

Hope that helps,

April 5th, 2002, 09:21 AM
I agree with SomeChick. Take a break, do something active. You'll come back to it. (One doesn't have to be intense all the time.)

September 9th, 2002, 01:55 AM
Well, swimming is less boring for me than when I was younger. At 20 years old, I had enough of it. And did it a couple times working doing laps during a 2 month course at the local Jr college in 1979 and again a one month course in 1983. Rarely swimming again until the summer of 1999 at a health club and doing very low yardage from 500 yards to 5,000 yards until May of this year. I became more interested because I still had my form in breastroke and most of my speed. I also notice that this is the off season fewer people are posting.

Dennis Tesch
September 10th, 2002, 09:30 AM
You said it all in your posting...... You didn't achieve the goals you set over the past two years. To "count tiles" for an 1 to 2 hours a day and not achieve what you set out to acheive is very difficult to accept.

My suggestion is to start over.... learn to swim again. Think out side the box and find some things you can achieve every day while you count tiles. In no time you will have built your confidence back up to try and compete again.... Good luck..

September 11th, 2002, 07:26 PM
Sometimes the answer to boredom in a routine is to simply mix it up a little. Running and biking can be the much needed answer.

Not exactly the same cardio work. But a change of scenery can do alot of good. I bet in an hour you could easily cover anywhere from five to seven miles on foot. And the benefits in terms of leg strength can be a nice assett for doing better turns and starts.

Swimming most of all should be fun. And hopping in that pool day after day with the same level of intensity could burn out most anyone mentally and physically. Enjoying the water should be the focus. Suprisingly, super physical conditioning will sneak up on you whether you planned on it or not.