• Chris Walker-Hebborn

My take on one of the "hardest" sports!

Swimming is without a doubt one of the hardest sports around, and don’t let anyone ever tell you anything different. I have swum millions of meters throughout my career and there are always times when you question whether it’s worth getting up at 5am or missing that social event on the weekend because you have a competition or training. Having goals are the key to longevity in anything you do and that reflects massively on sport as well. From a really young age I was taught by my coaches to make sure I had short, medium and long term goal, I never really understood the actual value of this until a later age, but I can’t stress enough the motivation it will give you when you need it most. My short term goals were always immediate competitions coming up or chasing qualifying times and my medium goals were always the major meet for the season, whether that was Worlds, Europeans or even Nationals, finally my long term goal or the “Dream” was to go to the Olympics in 2012, once I reached these goals I then had to reset and give myself new purpose in the sport that I was dedicating my life to, so following 2012 my new dream was to come home in 2016 with an Olympic Medal, and I was fortunate enough to achieve this. If you fail to set goals or set new ones, when times get tough and you start questioning why you are getting up so early or why you are doing such a hard set, it makes it so much easier to give up if you don’t have any goals set in place. So, if you are unsure, take the time to sit down with your coach and put some goals in place. Don’t forget, there’s no dream or goal that is too big, and it is completely individual to you, so do not let anyone tell you otherwise!

Setback are inevitable and they can be both big and small. Whether it’s a plateau or an injury/illness, sometimes things are out of your control and its down to how you manage or deal with a situation that I feel truly makes an athlete. There will be a million times in your career that you are tested, for me it was chronic

in my left elbow. This meant that sometimes under intense training and pressure, I would be left in terrible pain and unable to swim/gym. There were plenty of times this really got me down, but I learnt to manage my injuries and mindset, this led to more physio and rehab programs to strengthen a damaged tendon. I had different treatment’s and injections to try and fix the problem. Ultimately it wasn’t going anywhere, but that didn’t stop me, I found a way to manage the pain to maximise my training time.

As a British athlete training out of one of the National Centres in Bath, my support network was vast. I had access to a huge selection of help and treatment. This could range from physio to phycologists. Safe to say we were well looked after, and I credit a lot of my success throughout my career to the support network I had around me. Not only the people employed to support us, but my friends and family played arguably the biggest role!

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