Do you want to be the best in the team? Are you vying for a promotion at work or a gold medal in the upcoming race? Then it’s time to read how European and World Champion Marco Koch does just that.

1. Control your mind and stick to the plan

The 27-year-old German explains how it’s not just strength, performance or endurance necessary to become a professional and successful swimmer. It’s more about how well you can control your body and your mind.

Along with his coach and psychologist, Marco develops new ways to become physically and mentally stronger. This is his way of ‘thinking outside the box’. The different perspectives all come together and provide a variety of ideas to help Marco realise what is working well now and how things can be improved for the future. Improving his mental strength comes from analysing different game day scenarios and changes in his training and life. This helps him improve his performance both in and out of the water.

Marco Koch explains how swimming is as much of a mental challenge as it is physical.

Mental strength is especially important in competitions where it is easy to succumb to external pressures and expectations. This could cost you the race. When asked how one can cope with these psychological challenges, Marco simply answered:

2. Set priorities

Marco’s life is ruled by swimming, leaving little time for anything else. This will continue to be the case at least until after Tokyo 2020. However, he does manage to factor in time for his studies, private and family life.

“It’s either everything or nothing,” says Marco. With ambition like this, it’s no wonder that Marco is the current world record holder for the 200m breaststroke. Swimming is always the top priority. Everything else is adapted around his sport.

3. Have game day for dessert

Before races it’s important to have a clear routine to calm nerves so you can maximise your performance.

“I recap the last training session, because in the end this one race is like ‘kindergarten’ compared to all the kilometres you swam in training to get to this point, explains Marco. Competition is kind of like having had your main dish with vegetables and the only thing left waiting for you is a delicious and well-deserved dessert. Dessert is like that one race in front of you, the easy part, your reward for all the hard work. Every time you overcame yourself, all the mornings where getting up was hard and motivation was zero, made your game day easier.”

4. Fight for survival

Mental strength is key in races. We asked Marco how he motivates himself enough to keep going when there is one lap left and his competitor is an arm’s length ahead.

Marco Koch works hard on dry land as well as in the water to make his dreams a reality.
swimmer jumping from starting block marco koch training routine competition rewards hard work
From the moment he enters the water Marco pushes himself to make the unbelievable believable.
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5. Make the unbelievable believable

That moment when dreams become reality is quite something. Picture this: it’s the end of the race, you gritted your teeth and pushed yourself above and beyond what you thought was possible. You reached the wall first and look up at the screen to see that you swam a new world record. Marco, how would you describe that feeling?

“UNBELIEVABLE. It took me a week to digest and get the dimension of this success, realising that I made the unbelievable come true.”

6. Don’t lose your passion

Working towards a long-term goal becomes your life, but what happens after you reach it? We asked Marco about his plans for after Tokyo 2020.

The grand idea is to finish his studies and possibly become a swimming coach or a sports psychologist to inspire and encourage others using his sports expertise and new-found knowledge from studying. One thing Marco is sure about is that he “can’t imagine a life without swimming.”


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by Juliana Fioretti 19.07.2017
Hi Marco
I love swimming too and your comments are very inspiring!
by Thoko Ngwenya 12.10.2017
I look forward to coach football and / or become a talent scout. This article is awesome and I look forward to using and learning from the expertise on offer.
Nina Weihrauch
Nina Weihrauch | Editor Thoko Ngwenya 14.11.2017
Hi Thoko,

so great to hear about your vision! Keep on track and set smaller goals on your way to achieve your ultimate target.

Community member Marcus just talked about goal setting in our latest GamePlan A Speaker Series. Check it out:

All the best and stick with us here on GamePlan A,