Swim Goals for 2011
by Terry Laughlin

Posted on January 6th, 2011

New Year’s resolutions are an almost universal custom. Sticking to them is perhaps less universal.

My swim goals for 2011 come from a similar motivation, but I hope – indeed expect – they’ll result in a better outcome.  My intention in setting these goals is to create a powerful sense of engagement that will stay with me day-to-day and for many months, keeping me energized and excited in a healthful pursuit.

Five years ago, on the verge of turning 55, I set goals that most would describe as audacious. I aimed to: (1) win my first national Masters championship, (2) break a national age group record, and (3) win a medal at the World Masters Championship. I achieved all three and more, a heady experience for someone who demonstrated little ability or potential as a younger swimmer. The most important effect was personal confirmation of what I’d read, mostly from Ph.D. psychologist Anders Ericsson (read a revealing interview here), about the habits of those who achieve Expertise or Excellence.

Ericsson and colleagues found that  those who achieve eminence in a wide variety of fields rarely display inborn traits of excellence. I.E. There is no ‘gene’ for excellence. Rather a set of identifiable attitudes and behaviors characterized those who ‘overachieve.’ My mediocre swimming from age 14 to 21 suggested little possibility I might become an ‘elite’ in middle age.

In this post I’ll simply state the goals I’ve set for the coming year. In posts to follow, I’ll probe more deeply into why they have meaning and the path I’ll follow to try to achieve them.

I’m turning 60 in March, a milestone that prompts many to re-examine their habits and pursue self-improvement. In Japan, the 60th birthday is called Kanreki, a time of rebirth.  My goals combine a focus on how I’d like to swim in my new age group 60-64, and how Id like pursuit of those goals to enhance my health.

1) In pool swimming I aim to  compete among the top rank of my peers in my favorite – and strongest – events. These include the 500, 1000 and 1650-yd (or 400, 800, and 1500m) freestyle.

2) I also aim to break an Adirondack Masters 60-64 record in every freestyle distance, from 50 to 1650, and every ‘discipline’ – i.e. each stroke plus the Individual Medley. I also aim to place in the Top 10 in every event I enter at Masters Nationals.

3) I aim to finish the year as the top-ranked 60-64 swimmer nationally  in Long Distance/Open Water swimming, matching the ranking I achieved in the 55-59 age group in 2006 — and to break the USMS 60-64 records for the 1- mile and 2-mile Cable Swims.

4) I aim to enjoy better health – mentally as well as physically – than at any time since age 30.

5) I want to remain as engaged and energized by swimming throughout my pursuit of these goals, as I am today.

In a series of subsequent posts I’ll delve more deeply into these goals, including

  1. What motivates me to pursue each goal.
  2. How I link each goal to a ‘higher purpose.’
  3. The strategies I’ve developed to improve my chances of achieving my goals; and
  4. How I plan to measure progress.

I’ll also compare qualitative and quantitative goals (my first 3 are quantitative, the last 2 qualitative), explain why both are valuable and why we all should have goals – but choose those truest to our personality.

6 Responses to “Swim Goals for 2011”

  1. Kathy says:

    I like how you plan to analyze these goals. Makes for an in-depth evaluation. Looking forward to future posts.
    “What motivates me to pursue each goal.
    How I link each goal to a ‘higher purpose.’
    The strategies I’ve developed to improve my chances of achieving my goals; and
    How I plan to measure progress.”

  2. Isaac Ohel says:

    I am with you Terry. I am sixty-six years old. Last year, I decided to accommodate my age, by shifting my physical activity from running to swimming. Before encountering TI, I had a hard time swimming more than 25 meters of free style. I set myself a goal of swimming 1000 meters. The TI video and e-course took me over the threshold, and my goal is easily within reach for this year.

    I think I need to learn from your example and add time to my distance goal.



  3. DRM says:

    Inspiring even without the details.

  4. Isaac
    Making a qualitative goal your first is appropriate. That would simply be Swim with Ease and Enjoyment.
    Swimming with ease takes you to your initial quantitative goal – completing a 1km swim.
    The efficiency to swim 1K facilitates another qualitative goal – Quality of Life provided by the fitness you can gain from ‘endurance swimming.’
    Swimming with Enjoyment provides the motivation to make it a lifetime thing.
    Setting certain time goals will bring the engagement that provides even more motivation and enjoyment.

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  6. […] January 6 I stated my swimming goals for 2011 — including among them to break an Adirondack Masters 60-64 record in every […]

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