Why do I get tired and slow down as the swim progresses?

Interpretation #1

Well, I got tired and so I slowed down.

I must therefore work out harder to get in better shape so I can hold consistent pace at this distance.


Interpretation #2

I lost concentration on what was making it so easy for me to swim in the beginning so my stroke quality dropped.

The moment my stroke quality dropped, water resistance against me increased significantly.

Because water resistance increased, I struggled physically and mentally more to hold pace.

Because I struggled more I wasted energy at a much faster rate.

Because I was wasting energy at a much faster rate, my brain grew alarmed and I lost even more concentration on technique and turned attention instead to just finishing.


There are definitely cases when a swimmer, especially one who is new to swimming, simply needs to build more metabolic and cardiovascular strength. But the necessary strength for the vast majority of swimmers’ ambitions will conveniently happen as they spend time on improving technique. Let muscular strength for swimming ALWAYS form around the complex movement patterns they will be used in.

For most people who swim regularly, the problem is not muscular strength but mental concentration. The key is not more power, but to keep the power that is already available applied just where ‘ and nowhere else. That requires tuning in during practice, not tuning out.

The brain has this function, as defined by neuroscientists and – like Daniel Siegel: to manage information and energy for the whole body. To lose your focus in swimming is to lose good management of your energy.

So to assume that you have simply run out of energy does not cover the whole story. Why did you lose energy? What was the cause and what was the effect? Which came first? The exhaustion that led to deterioration in the stroke or the loss of stroke quality that provoked the exhaustion?

What we are able to show you quickly in a TI workshop or lesson is how you often have more than enough energy, it’s just that you’ve been wasting a great deal of it.

Next time you find yourself getting exhausted, stop for a moment and scan the situation.  Look for the little, but important details of your stroke that made it feel easy in the beginning, but disappeared when it started to feel tough.

This exercise alone will increase your Intelligent Swimmer Quotient. Learn from what you are already doing well, and then use your concentration to protect it as you swim along.

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