Mental Muscle is required to be a good swimmer

Not everyone can handle the intensity and work that swimming requires.  It is often extremely tiring and even painful.  (Not "broken leg" painful, but "burning sensation" painful.) 

Mental muscle helps you handle challenging situations without giving up or giving in to thoughts or habits of quitting.

Do you have weak or strong mental muscle? What do you do when swimming gets uncomfortable?  

Do you ever fall prey to any of the TOP 5 WEAK Mental Muscle habits?  (be honest)
  1. During a set, you adjust equipment (tighten/loosen goggles, fix cap, retie swimsuit, loosen snorkel, etc.) so you can stop and catch your breath for a moment.
  2. During a set, you fake a physical problem (coughing spell, need for inhaler, muscle cramp, "about to throw up" excuse, etc.) in order to stop and take a break.
  3. During a set, you stop to ask unnecessary questions ("Can I go to the bathroom?" "What are we doing?" "When is practice over?" "What time is it?" "How much longer?" etc.) so you can get out and take a breather.
  4. During a set, you lose good technique (no flip turns, sloppy streamlines, ineffective kick, crossing over, etc.) to make your swimming seem easier.
  5. During a set, you think negative thoughts ("I can't do this." "It is too hard." "I am terrible at this." "I can't go any longer." etc.) which allow you to give up.
If you answered "Yes, I have done that before!" to any of the above, read on! 

"Swimmers must learn to be comfortable being uncomfortable."  John Leonard, USA Swimming

Strengthen your WEAK Mental Muscle and develop STRONG MENTAL MUSCLE HABITS! (honestly)
  1. Be prepared and then relax.  Check your equipment; go to the bathroom; soften your facial and neck muscles; smile; no grimacing!  "I am ready for this practice and the challenges it will bring."  "I will be better after today."
  2. Welcome the pain as proof you are improving. If your muscles are hurting, they are getting stronger.  They must break down to build up and usually the breaking down part does not feel good.  "I must be improving because this hurts!" "I love this burn!"  "I am definitely getting stronger."
  3. Take control of breathing.  Take deep, cleansing breaths at the wall.  Exhalation should be long and steady when swimming longer distances.  Breathe every 3 strokes when appropriate.  Soften lips and focus on bubbles escaping mouth/nose.
  4. Focus on different muscle groups and perfect technique to maintain relaxed speed through the water.  The best swimmers have the best technique throughout a swim. If upper arms hurt, focus on pressing with forearms.  Change your kick to include the balls of your feet pressing downward.  Squeeze your stomach to tighten core.  Stretch out long and tight during streamlines off the wall.  Keep strokes long and strong, not short and choppy. 
  5. Think positive thoughts to help you handle challenging sets and races.  Remember:  discomfort is temporary.  "These feelings will not last forever."  "I can handle this as long as I need to."  "Other swimmers are feeling the same way."  "I can handle this set as well as or better than my teammates." "I love swimming." "I love racing."

MENTAL MUSCLE in swimming is crucial.  You should work on it diligently, as with any other aspect of swimming.