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Visualization is the Key to Your Success
Craig Townsend

Many people ask me "what's a really 'MAGIC' technique? What's the quickest, easiest and best technique to use in mental training?" - and this should probably be a difficult question to answer... but I have no hesitation in giving them this reply. Visualization.

Visualization is the closest thing to magic that we possess to turn average training times into unbelievable feats of human performance. Visualizing in your mind the exact way you want your swim to go is now essential for even the most elite swimmers and athletes, simply because it is a truly effective, easy way to 'program' your body to do exactly what you visualize in your mind.

At the Olympics next month, you will notice several swimmers (and many other athletes in other sports as well) seemingly staring into space in a fixed gaze, before they are about to begin competing - this is a tell-tale sign that they are visualizing their race/event. The truly professional swimmers and athletes don't just visualize at the time of a race, however; the very best take no chances with their preparation and thoroughly 'experience' the race in their mind before they even walk into the pool or arena. There is absolutely nothing in a big meet that you shouldn't include in your visualization - to perform well in a big meet, you have to 'experience' the whole thing in advance!

This means you must 'feel' the atmosphere of the big occasion, 'see' your competitors, the coaches, the pool, and your friends, 'smell' the water, 'hear' the crowd - I could go on and on, you have to immerse yourself into the entire meet if you want to be truly prepared for it. If you do not do this, you can find yourself becoming overwhelmed on the day by the big occasion. This is exactly what so many swimmers do - they train brilliantly all week and then get stressed out at the meets and do not perform at their best.

The only way around this is to experience the whole thing in advance - and this must be treated just as importantly as training itself! There is no escaping this cold, cruel fact. A swimmer's body is completely controlled by their mind, and in this day and age, if a swimmer decides to train ONLY their body, they're simply going to get left behind. In the weeks before an important meet visualize daily, and then, when you're right there on the day waiting for your race, look at the pool and 'see' yourself swimming the perfect race.

Right there in front of you, look at the pool and imagine every part of the race going perfectly. See no mistakes in your mind's 'race'; see only pure swimming perfection. For your body to swim perfectly, you must 'think' perfectly. Doing this at the pool is an additional part of the process which makes for the perfect preparation (though of course, you must also watch the quality of your thoughts, even visualization cannot help the mind that is filled with negative thoughts!). This technique can truly perform miracles, and it can make you stop and marvel at the enormous untapped power you possess within your own mind.

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