1. Aim higher than you intuitively think you can go. That’s important because the mind is stronger than the body. If you think you can do something, you can push your body to certain limits beyond what you are capable of doing physically. Your mind can mentally override what the body can do. It’s the same thing with training and with racing.
2. Be able to concentrate. You have to be able to isolate your thoughts and focus on your race. Focus on the moment. Do not worry about the future beyond the absolute immediate future. Concentrate on the here and now. If you make a mistake, worry about it later. You have to be able to concentrate because so many things will go wrong. You will never have a perfect race. You just focus on doing your best in that moment.
3. Effectively prioritize. You have to be able to do this with your life, and your lifestyle. You have to know what you have to do and when to do it, and what is required to do it. You have to be a good planner. Prioritizing the way you eat, the times of day you eat, the diet you have and making sure you have enough time to rest is a big part of how your workout is going to go. Everything you do is centered around pursuing your goal. Ask yourself when you take your next bite of food, “Is this going to help me accomplish my goal?” You have to know your priorities, and then actually do what you need to do.
4. Surround yourself with the right people and the right atmosphere. You have to choose the right kind of friends and have a good set of influences around you. Your friends are going to have a big influence on your life, who you are and what you do. In fact, who your friends are says a lot about who you are as person. Tell me who your friends are, and if I know them, I can l tell you who you are as a person.
5. Take on the biggest challenge. I could swim for Bulgaria. But the pressure is exciting to me. When the stakes are higher, your performance is better. The road to glory, the road to a record, the road to success – and it could be a best time or making a team – is about achieving a goal. Whenever I win a race or a medal, I very rarely remember the race itself or the feeling afterward. It all comes back to the road it took to get there – the journey, and demanding the most from myself. The gold medal is Christmas. The podium finish is really neat. But what got you there is what you remember. And what got you there is what will take you onto greatness in the rest of your life, too.