Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Are You Likely To Swim Fast?

I had lunch with my financial advisor yesterday in Newmarket, ON and he showed me an interesting statistic: something like 80% of people who use financial consultants are much more financially comfortable post retirement and are able to retire earlier than people who do not. Therefore, you are made to think that using a financial advisor causes you to be more financially stable. This statistic was not rocket science to me and I believe the statistic is used to reassure customers that they are doing the right thing (using a consultant) during an unstable financial period. 

I am a pretty skeptical person, though. I'm not sure that this statistic speaks to the capability of financial advisors and I do not believe that this correlation points to causation. In other words, I'm not sure that these people are better off because they use financial advisors (Thank you very much, Freakonomics). Perhaps the correlation points more towards this: The type of people that are more inclined to use financial advisors are the types of people that are going to be okay in retirement anyway (they're clearly interested in their money and security... at least enough to contract an advisor).

That statistical thinking came back to me while driving home and reflecting on this past weekend's Canada Cup. It came back to me again, later in the day while watching some of my group go through their activation and dry land routines; in particular, the push up caught my eye. No matter how many times we discuss the importance of doing this exercise properly, I see a never ending rotation of people doing really poor pushups across the swimming community. I do not believe coincidently, many of the same athletes are also radically inconsistent in their racing and performance times. The same would likely be true for someone who does not pay attention to stroke count, body position, drill form, etc.

Does this mean that doing pushup improperly makes you swim slowly? No, of course not. But it could imply that the type of person who is not interested in doing a push up well (especially when it is part of an activation routine - getting you ready so that you can train well) may also be disinterested in putting that same level of interest into their racing and racing preparation.

What can we do with this thought? 
If you're in a good program with a good coach, everything that you do in your program is geared towards making better athletes. All the swimming, all of the drills, all of the dry land and all of the talking is meant to make you "the type of person that will swim fast". A running theme in this blog seems to be that swimming fast is a result of doing EVERYTHING well, not just performing. My challenge to you is to pay attention to what you're doing! If you are the type of person who does not pay attention to the details, you are not doomed; you can change. Make a conscious effort to plan how you're going to make something better, then focus on making it better (here's the tough part) daily

By the above logic, it's the type of people that focus on doing everything properly that are more likely to swim consistently fast, it doesn't mean that only the people that are good at those things are going to succeed. While something as boring and as uncomfortable as push ups may not feel like it's worth the effort, guess again. Its not necessarily the physical work of the push up that is going to make you better; it could be the mental toughness and focus you'll gain from forcing yourself to do it right that translates into your swimming. I know that it's hard to pay attention to everything all the time... but thats kind of the point... isn't it?