“With just four months to go before the World Masters Championships, I would like to take this opportunity to wish all athletes good luck and success for this final stretch in their training phase. While the entire team is working hard to finalise the preparations in and out of the water, we have compiled a series of inspirational and motivational stories to help inspire you as you work hard to achieve your goals in Gwangju this summer.”
Dr. Cho Young Teck Secretary General of the 18th FINA World Championships Organising Committee Gwangju 2019
Inspire & be inspired
Philippe Geuer - What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger
My love for sports is extreme, in every sense. Having trained for triathlon for over 20 years, I always considered myself as an adrenaline lover and like to push myself to the maximum by taking up extreme challenges. And by extreme challenges, I mean taking part in races such as the Ironman and the Marathon des Sables - a six day run in the Moroccan desert.
As Charles Bukowski once said: “find what you love and let it kill you” – unfortunately my passion for extreme sports almost led me be down that path as I had one of the most challenging and terrible experiences of my life. During one of my training sessions, as I was cycling in the countryside I was hit by a car.
Every part of my left shoulder was shattered, and it took three months of hospitalization and many more surgeries to be able to walk again. I had to stop working, but what was most devastating was that I had to ban sport from my life. The diagnosis was that I could never swim again. After a lot of work and determination here I am, 3 years later, training for the 2019 Gwangju World Masters Championships!
While my challenge was mostly physical, it was also very mental. After two years without moving a finger, having gained 28 kilos more and suffering from severe depression, I made the decision to crawl out of my shell and reconnect with the athlete inside of me. I gave myself a big goal to swim. So, in 2017, I registered for the 2018 European Masters Championships in Slovenia, where I decided to swim the 5 km in open water – a big challenge!
It took a whole year of relentless efforts, failures and hard training sessions – both physical and mental – to finally recover my strength. I remember going from just a few lengths of the pool to swimming upwards of 60 kilometers per week on average. I was exhausted, I was in pain, but I kept going until the D-day.
I ended up swimming the 5 km in 1 hour 19 min. For some, this can seem an eternity, for me, it is a badge that I wear with great pride! Today, I feel ready to achieve even greater goals and one of them is to participate in the 2019 World Masters Championships in Gwangju.
For my fellow master’s athletes preparing for Gwangju, I just want to share one thing: remember to believe in yourself. Start by doing what's necessary, then do what's possible, and suddenly you are doing the impossible!
I would like to take this opportunity to wish you good luck in your trainings and I am looking forward to meeting you all in Gwangju this summer.
Yours in swimming,
Top training tips
“The toughest battle isn't mastering the job, but your head” – Micheal Phelps
Michael Phelps, considered to be the greatest Olympian of all time, won 28 medals over four different Olympic Games, out of which 23 were gold. While he may seem super-human, Micheal Phelps is just like us, except that in addition to his intense physical trainings, he invested a lot of time in mental exercises to develop his mental toughness.
Here is a glimpse of his interview with Jon Fortt, CNBC Co-Anchor and journalist, where Micheal Phelps gives his best insights on how he became the most decorated Olympian of all times.
Allow your body to recover
“I learned how important sleep was – it is where you can naturally grow, and your body recovers and that was something I had a lot as a kid. I was constantly sleeping but I was also constantly running around – I needed to rest, I needed my body to recover to make sure I was ready for whatever I had to do the next day. I was swimming a crazy number of yards seven days a week and for me that’s kind of where my dreams and visualizing played a role to motivate me and made me achieve the goals that I had. I think many people overlook how important sleep is.”
Dream as big as you can
“To prepare mentally and physically for the Olympics, it takes four years. For me, I knew what I had to do in the pool and if I got that done I would tune myself up mentally throughout that just naturally for what I was doing as a kid. I think a lot of it is about the work that you put in everyday and overall the sacrifices you make – I think that is a big keyword. One of the craziest things my coach tried to get me to do, when we first started to train together, was not to say the word 'can't.' So that I could broaden my mind and believe that I could do whatever I wanted to. And I think that was a key of us being so successful. For me, I was always a young man who would always dream as big as I could possibly dream – I didn’t want to be the second Mark Spitz, I wanted to be the first Micheal Phelps."
Worry about yourself, not the competition
"I'm staying in my lane. I'm doing what I have to do – what I want to do – to be able to try to be the best. For me, at the end of the day, when I was training, it was like, as long as I figured out what I needed to do in order to accomplish my goals and dreams, that's all that mattered. Nothing else mattered. Everything else would just play out. I can't control what other people do. So for me, I was always worried about myself, and what I needed to do. And it worked."
The full podcast is available for download here.
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