How does a swimmer overcome intimidation from a
Have you ever felt that a swimmer scares, intimidates or just
bothers you? Do you ever feel that you just don't have what it takes to beat
them? Well, join the club! Many swimmers experience this at some time in their
It can happen in many different forms too. Intimidation can be
intentional (such as teasing, verbal abuse, and even bullying), or it may simply
be the intimidated swimmer's own negative thoughts which have become mental
monsters. Either way, these can definitely prevent a swimmer from performing
at their best, and must be rectified before they seriously impact on a swimmer's
I worked with one State level swimmer who was the 'star'
performer in her club, but unfortunately she attracted a lot of negative abuse
from swimmers who were jealous and feeling left behind. This began to affect her
times, and she eventually had to change clubs, as neither she nor her coach
could seem to alleviate the problem with the other swimmers. She's now much
happier at a new club and swimming better than ever.
This is not necessarily the best course of action for everyone,
but it was for this particualr girl. It is much better to change
this situation before it reaches such a critical level, so here is another
method which has worked for many swimmers who've come to see me about
A National level 16 year old swimmer once came to see me
because he had not beaten a particular competitor for 4 years. There didn't
seem to be any deliberate intimidation coming from his competitor, it
was just a situation which had developed over time.
Many times this swimmer would decide to himself "this
time I'm going to beat him", and sure enough, he'd go out hard and be well
in front, until his own lack of belief would sabotage his performance -
causing him to make silly errors (which he'd never normally make), lose his
rhythm, and sometimes he'd even stop swimming completely, to allow his
competitor to win!
Of course, every loss only reinforced his belief that he
'wasn't good enough' and his confidence was disappearing rapidly.
We managed to reverse this situation in three weeks - he beat
this swimmer twice in one day, through using a simple but little-known
Firstly, I tried to get him to visualise (or imagine in
his mind) beating this competitor, each day for 5-10 minutes. However, this
didn't work because whenever he 'saw' this person in his mind, he would
completely freeze up and couldn't think straight.
So I asked him what his favourite animal was. He looked at me
as if I'd gone completely mad, but told me that a rabbit was his favourite
animal. So I employed some imagery into his daily visualisation, and
asked him to imagine daily 'seeing' this swimmer with cute big ears, long teeth
and whiskers! Despite the fact that he thought I was utterly crazy, he did this
each day, visualising swimming against this cute cuddly animal, and mentally he
had no trouble winning the race because he knew that rabbits couldn't swim very
Three weeks later he walked into the pool area, saw his dreaded
competitor, and just broke out into a huge smile. All he could think of was a
rabbit, not an unbeatable swimmer! He had lost all fear and respect
for this competitor, by reversing the mental 'programme' running through
his mind. He went on to beat him twice that day, and hadn't lost to him for the
following six months.
This method has worked many times, so give it a try. But
remember, it needs to be done regularly.
Your mind is the most powerful computer in the world. You can
use it any way you choose. Remember that you have the power to overcome any
problem to achieve your dreams, by using this secret weapon inside you.
The Mind controls the body, and the mind is unlimited.
The best of success, Craig Craig Townsend