Gold Medalist Katie Ledecky’s Advice on Setting Goals

August 15, 2016

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_zMLbNjWsFY

The Olympics are overflowing with inspiring personal stories in recent days. Astounding athletic talents like Michael Phelps, Usain Bolt, Simone Biles, Simone Manuel, and so many others have overcome numerous challenges and left us in awe during the Rio games.

Among the champions is Katie Ledecky who recently blew away the competition in the pool, and even broke her own world record. Ledecky has won five Olympic gold medals, nine world championships, and is the current world-record holder of the women’s 400-, 800-, and 1,500-meter freestyle. In this NBC Sports video, she recalls her childhood saying, “I never dreamed of going to the Olympics. I had no clue of how to qualify for the Olympic trials even. And I just continued to set goals, and one day going to the Olympics was my goal. And you just have to dream big, and work hard, and big things can happen.”

It’s understandable Ledecky never imagined she’d be swimming in the Olympics when she started swimming at the age of six. At that time, her only goal was to try to swim as fast as her 9-year-old brother Michael while in the pool. Michael has described how although he was three years older than Katie, she’d manage to be just one year behind his best swim times. When she was nine, Katie had the chance to meet Michael Phelps as a fan and got his autograph which certainly was inspiring. But sticking with the sport into high school, she developed both her textbook swimming skills and remarkable self-confidence in her ability to compete. Indeed, she set several records in the American and US Open, and the national high-school record for her prodigious freestyle racing.

And then the 15-year-old Ledecky made her international debut in London during the 2012 Olympic Games. She was the youngest American in the 2012 games. The young talent surprised audiences across the globe by winning the gold in the 800-meter freestyle. At the time, she stated, “I knew if I put my mind to it, I could do it,” and “I wasn’t intimidated at all.”

Clearly, the teen’s words reflected the ability to think like a champion. According to sport and performance psychology expert Dr. David Fletcher from Loughborough University many athletes have pre rehearsed scripts to repeat in their minds to maintain focus on their goals. “It’s convincing themselves of things they’ve done successfully in the past. Because often when the nerves hit you start doubting yourself,” he asserts.

Some other famous quotes from the now 19-year-old swimmer include:

“You just have to want it more than everyone else.”

“Go to that place, have a great swim. Whatever happens, happens. Have fun, enjoy it because there’s no guarantee you’ll ever be back there again.”

“I was prepared for it and it did hurt a lot, but I got the job done and it feels really good.”

“I try to make the good days great and take something positive from the days I’m not feeling good–work on technique or something like that.”

While actors and athletes have largely different skill sets, they both share certain aspects of their job requirements. For instance, there’s the emphasis on performance before audiences as well as the importance of self-confidence to excel in their fields. In Ledecky’s case, it’s apparent that as she set new goals for herself, she managed to plant the seeds of positive affirmations along the way.