How much does it cost to reach your goal?

I have a question for you… when you took up learning to swim, or learning to swim in a better way, did you have a clear goal of what you wanted to achieve? And, how much time did you think you’d need to invest to get to that goal?

Where did your initial expectations about the cost come from?

My experience and my study of motor learning for complex movements has led me to expect the process to take hundreds, perhaps thousands of hours of attentive, deliberate practice to build great skills and great fitness around those skills. Even when the goal is to be comfortable and be capable of recreational swimming, we’re looking at dozens of hours of practice, not merely a lesson or two and a few hours on your own.

(Years ago, I just about wore out this taped-up version of Teach Yourself Turkish and then tried to wear out our family’s language teacher next!)

If you to a teacher and asked to learn some basics in a new language so you could comprehend someone saying basic things to you, respond, and perhaps write a bit, how much do you think you would need to study, how much would you need to practice to be able to do that? How many hours a week, and for how many weeks or months would you need to practice so that you could do that without thinking about it?

(I’ve got a bit of the blues in me.)

If you wanted to learn to play a new instrument well enough that you could make some music to please yourself, how much would you need to practice? How much would you need to keep practicing in order to stay at that level or move up?

If you want to skillfully swim like your favorite (appropriate) swimming role model, how much would you need to give to attentive practice?

Some people come to a coach hoping there will be just a few tips, secrets or shortcuts they can learn quickly and cheaply and then they will just break through. But this is not the case for most people – there were no shortcuts for me and probably not for you either. The best we can do is to find the most effective process we can and then get to work.

It’s better to view the process of mastery in swimming more like you would view the process of mastery in a new language or art, no matter what level your goal is set at. Think of the commitment that was needed for the other complex skills you highly value – safe, skillful, and strong swimming deserves that also.

We definitely want to help each swimmer get to your goal as easily, as efficiently as possible, in terms of time and cost. But the reality is that mastering the skills of swimming and developing the supporting fitness around those skills, even just for recreational purposes, takes a great investment. The more you can absorb the principles of efficient swimming and effective training, the more you can do this for yourself. And we are eager to connect everyone with that kind of knowledge so you can continue to train on your own.

But think about it – the people who can do this on their own… they are doing it on their own. They are not coming to a coach for help, or didn’t need much, and perhaps they are content with the progress they are getting. But that is just not the way it is for probably 95% of the people out there. So, if you feel you just haven’t ‘got it’ yet, or feel you need more help, know that you are quite a normal human and that feeling is common to the mastery path.

As a matter of fact, those who reach mastery often don’t realize they are masters. It never quite felt good enough to quit working on it, so they kept going and going, farther than others were willing to go. We may notice how marvelous they are before they do.

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