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Digital Subscriptions > Outdoor Swimmer > October 2017 > SELF-TALK


Helen Davis explains how to control your inner voice by thinking smartly



If you could listen to your voice and what it says, what would you think? It is an interesting question to consider as everyone has an inner voice and listening to it is the first step in learning whether this voice is helpful to us or not. Every time you have an internal dialogue with yourself, you are engaging in self-talk. This might present itself by speaking out loud, mumbling to yourself or silently having a conversation with yourself inside your head. However your self-talk presents itself, it can be very powerful.


Self-talk can be powerful as it can be constructive, destructive, positive, negative and move us to or away from action. In the world of sport, this influence can greatly affect our performance outcomes. Self-talk can be many things; it can help you to:

• self-calm or relax

• self-educate

• self-motivate

• focus

• self-reward

• self-criticise

Consider your self-talk when you think about open water swimming; does your inner voice direct inwardly to yourself or towards others? Perhaps your self-talk is neutral or so quiet that you are not consciously aware of the conversation being held. Perhaps your self-talk is full of worry or self-doubt? Do you think your self-talk is believable or not? Evidence suggests that self-talk can have a big impact on your performance as an open water swimmer. If you are able to channel your self-talk in the right direction and your self-talk is positive and constructive in nature, this can result in improved performance. Unfortunately, self-talk that is negative and destructive in nature can have a detrimental effect on performance. Firstly, it is important to recognise how self-talk can help you.

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About Outdoor Swimmer

To paraphrase Ethel Merman, everything in the world of outdoor swimming is coming up roses. There may be thorns (such as FINA’s wrongheaded wetsuit rules), but we are undergoing a period of exciting growth with more and more people swimming outdoors and distance records being smashed around the world. One of the trailblazers in the world of marathon swimming is Sarah Thomas. In ‘Century Swim’ we meet her to talk about her mind-blowing 104-mile world record swim. For many outdoor swimmers, autumn is time to hang up wetsuits and swimming costumes until spring next year. With that in mind this issue is a pool training special, including a beginners’ guide to swim training aids. But your swimming season needn’t end now – in ‘Extend your Season’ I look at how and why you should swim outdoors all year round. If you’re anything like me, a lot of your time is spent procrastinating about getting into cold water. Our competition this month is to win the ‘Outdoor Swimmer’s Guide to Faffing’ calendar (and a snowflake swimming hat) by artist and outdoor swimmer Nancy Farmer. Check out the competition on page 23. Enjoy the magazine and happy swimming. Jonathan Cowie Editor