How I feel every single day: “When you are lying on your deathbed, you don’t wish for more time in front of a computer.”
How I used to feel every time I raced one particular girl on the summer swim team, regardless of the fact that she swam on a year-round club team while I tap danced and took piano lessons:
I had to beat her, and every time I didn’t it made me seethe. Naomi was very driven too, but for her it was about improving herself; for me, it was about improving myself and beating everyone else.
A mentality I also struggle against: I have an illogical conception of what weakness is. If I lose a race, that is weakness; if I have a bad training session, that is weakness. For me, anything short of perfection is weakness.
How I often feel during a race, especially if it is going well:
Surreal is the word. During a race, I feel as if I’m in a kind of bubble—it’s as if I’m swimming underwater. I can see and hear all this pandemonium—helicopters, cameras, media and spectators jumping up and down—but it also feels as if it is happening just slightly somewhere else and to somebody else.
The way I try to look at the challenges of a scary race or a hard training schedule:
The interface between the conservative and ambitious impulses in the brain should be a front of continual struggle. And remembering the pain of previous sessions or races we have successfully endured gives us the confidence to go through it again, and the evidence to present to the brain that we are capable of handling it.