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Knowing what I want helps me to achieve success: Swimming toward my goals!
26 February 2011
story by Jesse Phillips, WAIS Kayaker, National Champion - K2 200m
It was a Saturday morning after "ruining” myself at training earlier in the day, that I was to present at the Swimming WA Developing Champions Workshop. On this particular day I was feeling – like many athletes towards the end of a major training block – like my life skills would be better exampled in bed (Athlete lesson 1: How to recover…Sleep!).
This was the first Developing Champions workshop I had presented since the program was renamed from the Gifted Athlete Program. A rejuvenated program, which consists of sections Understanding Me, Managing Me and My Pathway; (in the CORE section of the program) critical elements in making the elite athlete tick. My role: To ensure my experience is used to give younger elite athletes a better understanding of what to expect going forward, and which life skills are important to improve.
The young group of Swimming WA athletes, all of whom are at the top level for their respected ages in the state and many of which are national representative prospects, were eager to learn more about the skills that would bring them future success. I always feel privileged to be involved in these initiatives, as it gives me a great outlet to reflect on my own practises and offers me a chance to share my experiences with athletes whom are dealing with similar challenges to me, when I was their age. As I was walking around the room I noticed the athletes interacting with their peers in activities that tested their knowledge on emotional awareness and mood changes. My memories flooded back to my primary school days when I worked in small groups doing art projects, collaborating and devising. Although I am a long way from those days in the classroom I am still active in these skills; the pressures of elite level sport force athletes to be flexible and adapt to the environment – which means collaborating with those around them (coaches, other athletes) to create new ways of achieving the outcome.
Many of the swimmers were gaining necessary lessons in time management and goal setting, which for me are two of the keys to my success in sport. Balancing two passions - kayaking and performing arts - along with work, social activities and home duties – is something that keeps me enthused each day. Aiming toward a target is so important to keeping athletes motivated and driven on a day-to-day basis. Without short-term goals that build step-by-step towards mid-term goals, towards long-term goals is the only way forward.
Maintaining a busy lifestyle is based around prioritisation and organisation was not my greatest strength when I was a young athlete. Although, after many confrontations with my coach and through the help of WAIS Athlete Career and Education Counsellors I have gained perspective about my role in the decisions I make. It may sound silly, though when athletes are so focussed on a single sporting goal, self-awareness is not so important (or so they think). What I found was that through becoming accountable for my actions and decisions, and owning up to the consequences of those actions, I was able to gain a stronger vision for my goal. It essentially made me responsible for my Olympic dream, which is critical – coaches, fellow athletes, managers, or parents will not get athletes to the Olympic Games. The athlete must do the work!
A big thanks to the athletes and Swimming WA staff for giving their best throughout the Developing Champions workshop and engaging so much in the workshop.
Jesse in his 'second home' environment.
Unlike swimmers - Jesse aims to stay above the water. There would be something seriously wrong if his body was in the water like our fellow swimmers!
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