Moses studied the language of BR and learnt to speak BR better than anyone else; that he did it in 3 years, becoming one of the best of the best, and an Olympic medalist should really not be surprising when you think of him as simply out-studying his competitors.
Moses didn’t crush harder workouts, push himself further to extremes in his physiology or psychology, pushing himself to death closer than any other athlete to succeed (the way current coaching philosophies would have you believe [i.e.] that HiiT / Hi Intensity Interval Training is the way).
Moses studied the language of swimming more intensely, trained the language to a higher degree of perfection than any other athlete and that is how he took the swimming world by storm… not be brawn but by intellect. Moses approached swimming not as a physical problem that had to be solved but as an intellectual problem: study and train to move more efficiently than the best, and you will out-swim the best of the best while exerting yourself less.
There is additional information, gifs, images, and a video on Ed Moses in a blog on The Athletes Cloud website – click here to link.
Evidence of the Concept – Canadian Olympian Penny Oleksiak
Canadians, we have our own version of Ed Moses in 2016 Rio Olympic medalist, and Canada’s youngest Olympic medalist: Penny Oleksiak. Unlike Ed Moses who did swim at a young age, Penny Oleksiak didn’t learn how to swim until the age of 9, and only joined a competitive swim team at the age of 12. But like Ed Moses, it was only 3+ years later that Oleksiak was not only at the Olympics but became Canada’s most decorated swimmer of all time.
Again… how does an athlete come from nowhere, and end up on the podium of international competition in such a short period of time?
The information available on Oleksiak states that prior to swimming she was involved in both gymnastics and competitive dance… the root of all movement languages. If Oleksiak truly studied – as it appears she did – these foundational and fundamental skill sets, then learning to swim and being able to accelerate quickly in the sport was a mere extrapolation of the skills she learnt on dryland. No different than Ed Moses who was learning how to move efficiently by playing many different sports, Oleksiak learnt how to move – and how to swim – long before she stepped into water.
Now consider how many other girls are swimming across Canada with dreams of swimming at the Olympics? Yet how many will? Some of them started swimming years before Oleksiak, some as early as age 6 or 7, yet they will never qualify for national level competition? How many girls will swim coaches burn out, blow up, and in some cases absolutely destroy pushing them to train harder, and harder, and then harder still in pursuit of qualifying for Olympic Trials, the Canadian National Team? Instead of teaching them to study language like Oleksiak, these girls will be told that self inflicted harm – i.e. no pain, no gain – is the path to success, that ‘surviving’ workouts is the goal… not learning, not studying.
Penny Oleksiak and Ed Moses are ‘not’ special in the way sports media would have you believe… they were born swimmers or born swimming. Neither Moses nor Oleksiak were born swimmers. What these two athletes show instead is that its not long arms, big feet, or “raw talent”… but a profound commitment to understanding or learning how you move, and studying to move better is the key to peak performance.
Moral of the Story
The moral of the story is not that it takes only 3 years to train for the Olympics, its that it should only take 3 years for athletes who have developed a solid base of foundational and fundamental movement techniques – i.e. a sound base in the root of the language of movement – to acquire, gain, and refine sport specific technique to the point of being competitive at the international level.
The corollary to this moral is the question… what on earth are all the athletes doing who are failing to succeed in sport yet have been training for years on end?
Well the answer to that is simple: if you, your swim coach, your own philosophy is that training hard, pushing yourself to hurt, “no pain, no gain” is the path to success, to excellence in sport, to mastery of movement… then you will find yourself constantly beaten in competition, passed by competitors who you believe aren’t as capable as you, aren’t as worthy as you, and over time, your frustration, disappointment, will build into anger, even hate.
In the end, you will come to think that there is something wrong with you, when there isn’t. You are fine, your approach to sport was incorrect.
Hammer at sport as if its something that needs to be broken, and you will only end up breaking yourself.
If you are not studying sport as if its a language, if you are attacking it like its an obstacle course that has to be beaten into submission, then the only thing that will end up beaten is you. You will eventually quit sport either because of a lack of progress, or because of beating yourself up constantly… you will quit because of injury or illness, or even a chronic disease which manifested as a result of your self inflicted torture.
Study sport. Study movement. Gain an understanding, an appreciation, an awareness, respect of how you move, what movement is efficient and what isn’t, how to change and modify movement to make it more efficient, study… study… practice… practice… and then practice more and sport will reveal itself to you.
Athletes Who Changed Sports, and Continued to Succeed
Michael Woods was a Canadian middle distance track & field runner but was dealing constantly with lower leg injuries which prevented him from truly rising to his potential in the sport of running. So Woods switched to cycling… and now rides as a professional on the Cannondale (EF) Education First WorldTour Team (formerly Cannondale Drapac), in 2015 he won a stage in the Tour of Utah, in 2017 he finished 7th Overall in the Vuelta a Espana, and this year took 2nd place Overall in the Spring Classic Liège–Bastogne–Liège. Click here for an article on his 2nd place finish @Velonews.com
Primoz Roglic was a ski jumper, the 2007 Junior World Champion and an Olympian representing Slovenia at the 2010 Winter Games. Roglic now rides for UCI WorldTour team Lotto-Jumbo and in 2018 has taken 1st place in both the Tour de Romandie and Tour of the Basque Country. Click here for an article on his 1st place finish in the Tour de Romandie @Velonews.com
Gwen Jorgensen went undefeated in the ITU 2015 Triathlon season. At the 2016 Rio Olympics, Jorgensen won gold in triathlon and then she stopped to have a baby. Having hit the pinnacle in triathlon, she decided it was time to give it a go in another sport: running, specifically in the marathon. But Jorgensen is not just giving running a go, her goal is Olympic gold in the marathon. But her journey for Olympic gold doesn’t start in lofty places, it starts with a humble beginning of realizing that she has a long way to go.
When you realize that sport is a language, then when you hit an impasse in one sport, you know that it doesn’t have to signify the end of your athletic career. Athletes who have studied sport as a language know that they can translate their skills to other sports, and knowing the process of gaining sport specific technique have no fears over learning the technique of yet another sport. In fact, that is what makes them professional athletes… isn’t it.