Choice, Acceptance and Courage

December 11th 2023

By Matt Hill
Categories: Triathlon Training

Choice, Acceptance and Courage


All of us are students – not just in the context of education / workplace, but in all areas of our lives, especially in those that we CHOOSE to improve. For this post, we are discussing students of swimming – those looking for ways to (mechanically) develop their stroke for future gains.


You have chosen to improve your swimming, to be successful, there are some things you need ACCEPT:

  • Your stroke is the way it (currently) is – it is not good or bad, it just is.
  • What you think you are doing might NOT be what you are doing!
  • What you think you need to do might NOT be what you really need to do… or be capable of doing.
  • You will need to commit time and energy to make changes – at least 3 swims a week.
  • You will need to commit to the advice provided by your coach / someone you trust, even if it feels strange, hard, against the “norm”, etc.
  • The change might initially cause you to slow down or feel more tired.
  • You might need reminding of the same point many, many time – it is not personal, your body just isn’t making the change yet.
  • After a good amount of time, the initial suggestion might need to be revised or even scrapped and a different approach taken. If this is the case, no time has been wasted, you will have gained new sensations and awareness of your movements which will help develop in different ways and faster in the future.


You’ve accepted where you are and a different path has been presented, now you need to have the COURAGE to start – and stay – on that path. If you are lucky, and your mind/body connection allows, some changes might have instant returns, making you faster and more efficient in just 25m. This is not always the case though; changes to stroke mechanics often need TIME and LOTS of commitment. Some of the points below overlap accepting where you are and where you are going, but you need to be courageous to:

  • ACCEPT the advice given, it is given to benefit YOU. It might be different to what YOU THINK YOU KNOW of swimming, but it is what your coach believes you SHOULD try.
  • Swim multiple times a week (3 minimum if possible) – MAKE TIME to expose yourself to the water and the new movements.
  • Go slow – put yourself behind your peers, swim gentler so you have more mental and physical control over the new movements.
  • Work HARDER – yes, opposite to above but in the sense of swimming more volume or intensity to ingrain the new movements – and to mentally engage harder.
  • Have more rest – stop for extended rests while your peers continue.
  • Take and listen to the same advice repeated many, many times; the coach is not picking on you, just reminding you that your body isn’t yet holding the changed movements.

The following article, written by Brett Sutton, provides you with a (common) story about someone who doesn’t make the right choices; instead they don’t accept their situation and have the courage to stay on the path that had been set (even though the path had already provided positive results):

Swimming Hurts

Swimming hurts – a play on words: referring to physical pain from just working hard, or is it something else?

Your Choice, Accept it and have courage to own your adherence

I would say he is describing mental pain, the pain to ones ego / pride that MUST be endured if progress is to be made. If you want to get better you already know that you are doing something “wrong” so why feel hurt?

There is no easy way, no shortcuts. If you want to change, you have to choose to change. You have to accept yourself now and what is recommended to you to change. Then you need to be courageous enough to keep listening, applying and committing.

Your ego needs to be controlled, because your ego does:

  • Feel “hurt” and uncomfortable.
  • Try to reason / compromise with you, and suggest what you were doing before was easier and will work out.
  • Tell you that what you watched on YouTube looks a better way of doing it.
  • This or that drill or tool will help more.
  • Suggest “I should focus on it next session as I want to swim fast today”.
  • etc.
  • etc.

Remember that you are the student and that what you feel is probably wrong (perception and the reality often do not align), that what you think you know (from what you watch or read) might be wrong or not applicable to you and that EVERYONE needs to work the “basics” as well as individual aspects.


If you choose to change, find your path, commit to it now and for a considerable amount of time! There is no shortcut to reaching ones aspiration and potential!