9 Goals for the School Year


By Mike Gustafson//Correspondent

Beginning a new school year can sometimes feel like a huge case of the Mondays. Yesterday, thousands of kids went back to school, and as such, I think I heard 100,000 kids simultaneously release a heavy, despondent sigh trudging to class. Morning practices, exams, math…

But going back to school doesn’t have to be that bad. It’s a new year and a new beginning, which means new goals.

The start of the school year is like New Years Day: It’s an opportunity to hit the reset button and create the good habits for the rest of the year. Here are 9 goals you can work on this school year -- outside-of-the-pool types of things that don’t necessarily have to do with specific times or places.

1. Compliment Yourself.

No Olympic gold medalist in history ever thought, “You’re not good enough” seconds before diving into the final race. Neither should you. Get into the habit of complimenting yourself, even if it seems silly at first.

2. Be The First Person In The Water.

I have a theory that the first person in the water usually has the best practice, and the last person in the water (sometimes) has the worst. Staring at the cold pool does nothing for you except make you agonize about how cold the pool is. Don’t agonize: be the first in the water! It’s such a simple thing that, somehow, always makes me enjoy practice more.

3. Swim An Off-Event.

Cesar Cielo said during the World Championships that he had never swum the1500m freestyle. Don’t be like Cesar. If you never swim every event, how will you know what you are good at? I used to hate the 400 IM, until I swam it in a meet. Four years later, I was a 400 IMer. Don’t be scared of the 500 or the 1650. Swim everything once. Who knows? You might even love it.

4. Give Up One “Time Waster”.

You’ll never finish high school or college and say, “I wish I had spent more time playing Words With Friends.”

5. Cheer Your Teammates.

Cheering is like karma: When you cheer for teammates, they’ll cheer for you. Don’t be the person or team that sits on chairs and sluggishly whispers, “Go Brian…” Cheer loud, cheer proud, and cheer for everyone.

6. Understand Your Practices.

Don’t be the swimmer who floats through practice mindlessly and never pays attention to the sets. Ask your coach questions. “Why are we doing this distance free set?” Don’t ask sarcastically, but ask sincerely. You’ll understand your workouts more. And when you understand the reasoning behind 10x400 IMs, you’ll be more inclined to practice better.

7. Improve One Thing A Day.

You can’t win an Olympic medal with one practice. Success requires a multitude of practices, and a million tiny, little baby steps. Pick one thing to improve with every practice – a turn, a technique improvement – and focus on that. This works especially well when you’re having a sluggish practice or when you’re having a case of the Mondays.

8. Make A Calendar Of Goals.

Print off a calendar and write goals on it. They don’t necessarily have to be times. Write on Friday that you’ll nail that back-to-breast turn, or that you’ll do 15 minutes extra of dryland. Then, as you accomplish the goals, mark a big red “X” across the day. You’ll get lots of satisfaction looking back at your month and seeing a streak of red Xs.

9. Say Something Nice About Someone Else Every Day.

Happiness is a virus: It spreads. Many people get into the habit of talking bad about other people. This is mostly laziness. Take the time to find the goodness in people, and compliment someone. Be sincere. When you get in this habit, you’ll feel better about yourself, and other people will be happier around you, too.

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