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Motivation: the art of investing yourself

Swimming is a sport in which the mind plays an important part. Motivation is a major key of swimmer psychology since it conditions their investment and perseverance in the sport.

This article discusses motivation in the context of swimming but it can of course be extended to all other areas (education, other sports, professional life, etc.)

Let's discover together the different types of motivation:

Motivation related to the activity (intrinsic)

We talk of intrinsic motivation when it is related to the satisfaction or pleasure that one feels when swimming.

There are three main sources of intrinsic motivation:

  • Sensations: relaxation or on the contrary physical exertion, the feeling of gliding through the water...
  • Learning: learning to manage a race, achieving a higher standard of swimming technique...
  • Accomplishment: satisfaction of achieving your goals, pushing your limits, increasing your capabilities...


Motivation linked to results (extrinsic)

Extrinsic motivation is related to what the swimming activity provides. Its impact, consequences and outcomes. Here it is therefore about getting something from the practice of swimming other than the satisfaction linked to the activity.

There are three sources of extrinsic motivation:

  • Recognition: respect and admiration from other swimmers, parents, coaches, friends...
  • Competitiveness: proving yourself, becoming better than other swimmers...
  • Reward: podium finishes, financial gains, qualifying for championships...

Homme à l'entraînement avec plaquettes de natation

Different but complementary motivations

The pleasure of swimming should always be at the centre of an athlete's motivation.

However, it is not uncommon to find that a swimmer can combine the fact of wanting to train and progress (intrinsic motivation) without losing sight of wanting to be crowned regional champion or qualifying for the national team (extrinsic motivation).

These sources of motivation can therefore coexist and this combination can be much more effective in fuelling an athlete's sense of fulfilment and supporting the intensity of their commitment.

Research conducted by many professionals suggests that intrinsic motivation is more stable and durable than extrinsic motivation due to the fulfilment and enjoyment it provides. Therefore, a swimmer that is only extrinsically motivated will often persevere less.

So the secret is to "Dive in cheerfully!"

National Swimmer & Dialogue Leader