I ran into Seth Pepper yesterday at a cafe. Seth's the videographer working with Shihan John, but also happens to be a former swimming champ. He was ranked fourth in the world in the early/mid-1990s, and missed making the Olympics by 4/100 of a second in the trials.
As a sport, swimming is far further evolved than what we have in most martial arts, not simply in being an Olympic event and having collegiate & national teams everywhere. It's in the level of teaching and coaching that occurs in swim teams, the dedication of the athletes, and the organization pervasively at all levels of schools.
Take athletes for one: I consider someone who is going to dedicate more than casual/hobby interest, train several times a week, seek out how to improve themselves to a fine degree, and consider all the dimensions of the problem. Notice I don't say that you have to be big, strong, fast, agile or otherwise. These are the proficiencies that come out of that degree of training.
Most of our students are interested in battodo as a hobby or lifestyle interest. Don't get me wrong, this doesn't mean that they don't enjoy it, or are not skilled. However, athletic training means giving up much more of your time every day or week to focus on training.
Seth gave an example: in swimming, you need to learn not just how to pace yourself, but know in your head what pace you are going at (e.g, low, half-speed, 90%, maximum, full out) based on your ability. This is something you need to do while you are in the midst of the actual exercise. In other words, you may be going full out, but need to be thinking not only of the technique but that you are going full out and may not have the stamina or strength after that technique to continue. This is pacing strategy: knowing when to apply the right pace.
Pace is only one factor. Positioning is another; not in terms of where you are physically, but in relative terms of: "what do I do in this situation?" That applies to all competitive sports. Both pace and positioning can be trained entirely mentally; i.e., pictured in your head without ever doing it.
The factorI find is that most practitioners in our sport has primarily been focused around collecting "techniques", which becomes a limiting issue. I'll save that for another post.