Let’s face it. You might not be a writer, you might not love writing. You’re a swimmer. That’s cool. What matters is that you’ve just raced. And now you’re out of breath. And have a million thoughts racing through your head (pun intended). Which is why psychologists, and your fellow club-swimming writer, suggest that you try journaling after your races. Simply take a note on your phone to massively improve your athletic performance and mental health.

Of course, it isn’t recommended to vex on each meter of your race, but reflecting on the thoughts that ran through your head while you exhausted yourself in the pool, helps improve awareness of your physiological swimming habits. Awareness of the thoughts on the forefront of your mind while racing, or the absence of them, are important to confront. Athletes don’t just improve through physical labor, doctors consistently advise that strong mental health is responsible for up to 50% of each individual’s athletic success. Every person should strive to place constructive thoughts at the center of their minds during racing, nuanced to each of their unique needs.

Think of it like waking up after a meaningful dream. You could easily go about your day and forget about everything that happened, or you could take a minute to jot down what you experienced in your head, and maybe make some sense out of it, or at least try to recall the feeling it gave you.

So after your next race, just reach for your phone or a notebook, and jot down what thoughts flashed through your head as you raced. Were they motivational? Were they affronting? How did they affect your race? And what thoughts do you want filling your head for the next one? Observe and analyze the ideas and opinions that popped into your head, and filter them based on what helped and hurt your performance.

Taking the steps to mentally groom your mind is a prerequisite to becoming a stronger swimmer. Try developing habits towards better mental health and better physical performance, because the two go hand in hand.

Written by Sofia Arriaga