Keys to Success with Alex Meyer
We sat down with World Championship team member and 2011 USA Swimming Open Water national champion Alex Meyer to talk about what it takes to succeed as a swimmer. Here, the defending world champ in the 25K provides some keys to success.
1) Have a clear set of goals. The emphasis here is on having a set of goals, not just one goal. You have to set up an ascending kind of ladder for yourself so you can celebrate smaller goals along the way. But always have something bigger in mind.
2) Keep loving the sport. You can't do it because you want to make money or if your parents are making you. You have to want to have fun with it. You have to love this sport, and if you do that, you will have a lot of fun. Besides, you can't be good at something you do not enjoy doing. And if you don’t like it, you won’t be prepared to do well in your races.
3) Work hard, but be comfortable. You need a program that pushes you hard and works for you, and you want one that has good teammates. You also have to be in a place where you are comfortable, from simply the geographical aspect to having good communication with your coach. You don't want to be in a place where you are always complaining. You want to know the objectives and be comfortable with them.
4) Personalize your own program. We are all naturally competitive, but you can't directly compare what you do to what other people are doing - especially your competitors. It's easy to look at what a person on another team is doing, or see that Michael Phelps and Natalie Coughlin are doing something and think that might work for you, but that is not always the case. Everyone’s body and mind works differently. As I have gotten older, I realize how I have a very particular way of doing things. You need to experiment and understand what works best for you. Don't be discouraged if something that works for you doesn't work for other people. You are unique. The science of training is about how there is no one way – no one right way – to train somebody.
5) Contextualize your ups and downs: You will experience very gratifying wins, and very tough losses. You will have great practices, and ones where you will struggle. You will lose races and win races. But every one of these is an opportunity to get better, and to get a better understanding of the sport. Even those who are the best at a specific event don't know everything. They will tell you they are learning something every single time they race. Especially in open water, every race is new – and a chance to get better.