Improve your mental toughness by trying out these 2 swimming workouts


I just encountered 2 of the hardest endurance programs this week, and the satisfaction I get from completing those sets just makes the week of training well worth it. I’m glad to say that my mental toughness has indeed increased after those monster sets. It’s those type of sets whereby you’ll go “Is this even possible to complete?” or “To survive the set and regret saving up, or die a champion.” I chose to die a champion, which is why I’m here to share with you 2 distance sets which I’ve swam this week and you guys can do a vote on which is the harder set.

Both of the sets were about 9km in total, and gosh I cannot emphasize how shocked we were when we heard the sets.


If some of you are unsure, the set was run by Sonya Porter, our new High Performance Manager who is always on deck overlooking and coaching us as well.

field blur 8
Photo Credits: Adrian Seetho

What I’ve learnt from her is that there are 2 elements to swimming – The swimming mechanics itself, and the mental aspect of swimming. Swimming mechanics consist of strokes, techniques, pace, and intervals whereby the mental aspect consist of things like overcoming adversity – whereby you do not give up when a killer set approaches, or pushing on even though it may seem like a close to impossible set to complete.

Here are 2 sets which we have done over the week (do take note that these are just the main sets, warm ups and warm downs are excluded):

Set number 1 – 
8 rounds:
4x100m Freestyle on 1:30 Aerobic
400m Individual Medley on 6:00 (Descend speed from 1st round to 4th round to 180 BPM, descend speed again from 5th round to 8th round which is an all out)

Total distance: 6.4km

Set number 2:
8 rounds:
800 Freestyle swim:
100m Fast, 700m Aerobic on 12:00
200m Fast, 600m Aerobic on 12:00
300m Fast, 500m Aerobic on 12:00
400m Fast, 400m Aerobic on 12:00
500m Fast, 300m Aerobic on 12:00
600m Fast, 200m Aerobic on 12:00
700m Fast, 100m Aerobic on 13:00 (extra minute rest before the last one)
800m Fast (All out) with a dive

Total distance: 6.4km

These 2 were more of mentally draining sets than anything else to me. I personally feel that the coach plays an important role during sets like these to constantly motivate their swimmers to push on and overcome the mental obstacles when things get harder during the later stages of the set.

You can see that the sets are gradually increasing in intensity as it progresses through the sets, so it not only gets mentally strenuous, it gets physically strenuous as well.

Coach Sonya used important cue words to get us into our ideal performance state when we were swimming, which definitely helped us through this killer set.

“Right now you’re probably feeling sorry for yourself for how much your body is hurting, but no matter how tired you may be feeling, I want you to change your mindset and keep pushing hard! It’s all a state of mind guys, if you’re able to overcome this, you guys will be able to swim well when the big day comes.” … Wise words indeed. 

Sets like these really trains your mental toughness because things always gradually get harder when you enter the halfway mark, which leads you to 2 choices – To trick your mind into thinking that the set is finishing and press on, or to give up, regret, and try harder again another day.

Being competitive swimmers, these sets will push us to increase our mental toughness to overcome the mental barriers that we have and complete the set to the best of our ability.

I’m definitely growing both mentally and physically stronger with sets like these leading up to next years trials in March. Things are looking great and I’m sure that my hard work will pay off when the big day comes!

Also, kudos to the distance squad for accomplishing this set together, wouldn’t have done it without you guys!

Photo credits: Adrian Seetho

So there you have it, what do you think of these 2 endurance sets? Which do you think is harder? Cast your votes below!

Which was the tougher set?

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