August 9th 2012, and I was engrossed in the London Olympics women’s open water swim. I was struck by a goal achievement tip, and it involves a plastic cup…
The distance is 10k metres, that’s 6 miles, or 200 lengths of a 50m pool. It’s also pretty violent, and British hopeful Keri-Anne Payne was on the end of several smacks in the face.
She had been a pre-race favourite, but ended up 4th. I remember at the Beijing Games when she won silver, being denied a gold by another swimmer grabbing her leg.
Payne has always said that winning the event is about making the right decisions at the right time. She said she decided to go to the feed station at just the *wrong* time, because she found herself in the middle of a scrum of swimmers, and it took more energy out of her than she thought to get back into the race.
If you imagine how difficult it is for marathon runners to get their drinks in a crowd, then multiply that for the open water swimmers. All their coaches stand on a pontoon holding a 5 metre pole with a little basket on the end.
The swimmers have to fight to get to their own pole, and grab what they have put inside it, then try and get it down them. Here’s the goal achievement lesson I noticed…
The commentators were obviously not used to the event, and they were as surprised as me by some of the containers used for the drinks. Some swimmers simply had plastic bottles which had been emptied of branded drinks and then refilled.
A bit rudimentary perhaps, but workable.
Here’s the thing though, some swimmers had plastic cups! As the swimmer yanked the cup out of the basket at the end of their pole, the contents of the cup flew everywhere. Everywhere except the swimmer’s mouth that its!
Some of the super slow motion replays showed this bizarre process in glorious detail, and the commentators could not believe it, and neither could I.
I have written many times, not least in this series of Olympic articles, that you can improve your goal achievement efforts by reverse engineering what others do, or by innovating.
Now really, it’s hardly an innovation to work out that a bottle would be more efficient in the middle of a 6 mile Olympic race than a plastic cup, is it?
Have I missed something or is it as simple as I think it is! I don’t know what your goal is, maybe it’s to win a swimming gold (I know that’s not my goal!)
Whatever it may be though, think of the plastic cups used at London 2012, and ask if there are stupidly simple improvements that you could introduce to move you forwards.
I’d love to hear what you think – leave a comment or get me on facebook.
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