Chris Walker-Hebborn: The Pressures of Swimming

As you can imagine with any elite sport there comes an overwhelming amount of pressure. This can come from many different sources, from your family and friends, coaches and support staff. However, the most common form comes from the pressure you put on yourself.



Throughout my entire career this has been something I have battled with constantly. Without coming across biased, swimming is one of the hardest sports out there but also one of the most rewarding. From a young age I was told that I didn’t possess the genetics to be a great swimmer, nor did I have the talent. As you can imagine this is quite hard to deal with from a young age, but I decided that I would spend the rest of my time as an athlete proving people wrong. Sometimes there is nothing more satisfying than showing the world you can do whatever you want if you put your mind to it, but at the same time I put a lot of pressure on myself to prove this point and sometimes it doesn’t always go to plan. It was in my senior years that I realised I should be doing it for me and only me.

It's hard not to put any pressure on yourself but as I grew into my career and my own mind, I realised that I needed to enjoy what I was dedicating my life to and after that things slowly started falling into place and the results started to pour in.

Pressure in Competing Chris Walker-Hebborn

A lot of pressure comes from your governing body and this counts for any sport. As a funded athlete you are expected to get certain results to keep your funding. We train for 30+ hours a week for a race that lasts me 52 seconds, all it takes is to have one bad day at the wrong time and you can lose all your funding, which as you can imagine is quite a stressful thought. So, apply all these to any situation or sport and you’ll see the pressure can really be a detrimental factor to your overall success if not managed effectively. It’s not all doom and gloom though, I also believe pressure is a key player in success and pushing your mind and body to its absolute limits.

Ultimately you want to be successful in your chosen sport and want to compete with the very best in the world, this alone implicates pressure to a situation but can help you push boundaries and limits that will separate you from the rest. Some people would argue that you can perform better when there is no pressure, and I'm some scenarios this can be true for some athletes but I feel you can run the risk of being too relaxed and you miss the opportunity to perform.

Olympic Pressure

Olympic finals come with an unbelievable amount of pressure especially in my situation, I was one of 4 guys in an Olympic final next to the USA and Michael Phelps last ever race. Each guy takes up the responsibility to give their absolute everything for the team, so if something goes wrong it affects more than just yourself, which can be quite hard to manage at times, but we put a lot of practice into making sure we all compete as one, and in the end on that day it all came together for a British record and Olympic Silver medal.

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