Help us to shape the future values and vision of Swim England at our roadshows

Dave’s top tips on finding the right balance in life to help your swimmers succeed

Long-term Teamipswich head coach Dave Champion shares some lessons learned on finding wellbeing and balance in life.

Looking after yourself and trying to keep your life in some sort of balance is surely one of the oldest pursuits.

It’s like Indiana Jones hunting down another treasure … there are stories and folk tales but no map that you can follow.

Certainly coaching has the ability to suck the life out of you if you’re not careful and especially during these difficult times. Finding some time to escape the “madness” is certainly the key for me.

The pressures of work can become quite a demand when you are trying to juggle career alongside family, friends, social life and general wellbeing.

There doesn’t seem to be any magic solution to achieving a better work/life balance. Like most processes that will have a positive impact in your life, it is something to be practiced but here are some things that I’ve found that have helped me along the way.

The power of no is a wonderful thing

Set your own priorities and do not be afraid to say no every now and then and put yourself first. This is not about saying no to everything but about not feeling like you have to take on the extra responsibility at work or home just to please others.

Find your balance

It sounds simple but is something that people tend to forget. Remember to be aware of your own needs and wellbeing. Be mindful of how you are feeling physically and emotionally, and listen to your intuition. If you feel you’re out of balance day in, day out, then it’s probably time to look at what’s going on and re-evaluate.

Ditch the time stealers

How much time do you spend complaining about having no time? How long do you really spend in front of the TV or computer attempting to take a “quick breather” maybe watching a little video or programme here and there? Have you ever found yourself being distracted by emails instead of focusing on your task in hand? These are all time stealers that can be avoided so recognise them and ditch them!

Be strict and keep free time in your diary

Even if you enjoy the adrenalin of being constantly busy and you find yourself addicted to being the martyr, do something for yourself at least one evening a week, something you’re really going to enjoy. It’s amazing how fulfilling this will be. If you really can’t manage one evening a week then make it a day / a weekend every month. Don’t structure the time and get back in touch with what’s important to you and your friends / family.


Have a plan, set your priorities and work to your goals. Remember the four Ds of effective time management if you find yourself becoming a bit overwhelmed. Look at your tasks that need doing and decide how to handle them.

  1. Do it – action it straight away.
  2. Ditch it – If it’s not important or not of a nature of business then bin it and move on.
  3. Delegate it – don’t try to do everything yourself, if it needs to be done but someone else can do it then send it their way.
  4. Delay it – If it needs doing but is not urgent then come back to it. It can wait.

There’s a great Finnish saying that goes: “Without the possibility of failure, there is no success.” So have a think each morning about setting some minimum goals that you would like to achieve that day.

If they’re small then they’re doable which is important. Keep them simple and then there’s even more chance that you’re going to get them done.

Try and think of two or three things that you are grateful for each day.

It sounds silly, I grant you, but it makes a big difference to how you look at your day after a while.

If you find yourself starting to worry then never underestimate the power of a big, deep breath and use it as a way to calm your mind and help you refocus. It’s what I get my swimmers to do and it makes a huge difference to the problem at hand.

Similarly try and focus on something that makes you happy.

It only has to be small but if it makes you happy then it’s going to change your day.

I find for me that getting outside in the fresh air helps me think and refocus my mind.

Find someone to talk to – it can be a mentor, a friend or even your partner.

Someone who isn’t judging you and who can give you some positive feedback in a world full of parent criticism.

It’s not easy I know but taking on a few of these things can make a big difference to your piece of mind and that’s what’s important.

For me, I make sure I turn my phone off after training in the evening, I don’t check my emails on a Sunday, I try to make some time for me and the things I want to do.

It’s not about not caring about the swimmers that you coach – it’s about trying to be in the best place possible so you can do the absolute best that you can to help them succeed.